Four hundred Irish Travelers are bracing themselves for a brutal eviction battle after losing their latest and final court battle to stay on the Dale Farm site in Essex.
Lord Justice Sullivan found against the Travelers on every count in their appeal court challenge to a decision taken by Basildon Council to evict them.
The judge reminded the Travelers that their site, the largest caravan base in England, had been repeatedly turned down for planning permission for an encampment.
He stated that the latest application that they should be given permission to remain there temporarily while their housing needs were assessed by the council was ‘simply not a realistic proposition bearing in mind the length of time this matter has been outstanding’.
“The interests of the children have been given very considerable weight in the decision-making process,” said the judge. “But the secretary of state had decided that the children’s interests did not outweigh the need to ensure that planning laws are obeyed.”
The Travelers and the council have been in dispute over the Dale Farm site since 2005.
Kathleen McCarthy, one of the resident Travelers affected by the latest ruling, has claimed that prejudice is behind the decision to evict almost 400 people, including 100 children, from the site.
Reacting to the latest setback, McCarthy said: “We bought this land and it’s still no good. It’s making us break the law. The minute we are on the side of the road we are breaking the law.
“About 300 people are currently at Dale Farm to oppose the imminent evictions. I can not understand how the land was designated greenbelt by the council when there was a scrap yard on it and five pitches for homes could stay.”
Residents are now manning barricades at the site and say they are preparing to ‘fight off the bailiffs’.
McCarthy added: “The barricades are all that stand between us and homelessness now. We’ll have to fight off the bailiffs.”