Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Dark clouds, despair and designated destruction at Dale Farm, Essex

Travellers living illegally at Dale Farm, Oak Lane, Crays Hill,  near Basildon and Billericay, CM11 2YJ, Essex, are facing eviction.  Dale Farm is believed to be the largest illegal settlement in the land.  There are proposals by Basildon Council to remove the travellers, who are currently living on green belt land without proper planning permission.  A forced clearance is possible.  The existing buildings constructed without planning permission will have to be destroyed.  According to Basildon Council this dispute has been going on for ten years, and families have lived in these residences at Dale Farm  knowing that they are breaking the law. It is estimated that over 80 families are resident there illegally.  Some do live there legitimately on a scrapyard site, where planning permission was granted for homes. The land is legally owned by families of travellers.

The travellers' appeals to the High Court have failed, despite pleas for consideration under the UN convention of human rights, relating to children, and the poor health of an elderly resident.

Political activists have been forming a protest camp at Dale Farm.  The barricades will go up and an expensive policing operation looks inevitable, though many attempts to find peaceful solutions, involving local churches, continue.  The cost of removing the families and bulldozing the buildings on green belt land could be millions of pounds.

Vanessa Redgrave, the actress, has championed the travellers' cause.  

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