Basildon Council has honoured its commitment to return the former unlawful traveller site at Dale Farm to a condition in keeping with the green belt.
Works to improve the environment over the course of this week mark the end of the council’s involvement with the site that dates back to the well-publicised clearance of caravans in 2011, which took place following the refusal by the owners to comply with planning law.
Contractors working on behalf of the council cleared more than 181 tonnes of fly-tipped rubbish, including asbestos waste, from land at Dale Farm and its access road.
Concrete obstructions and a gate have been installed at the entrance to the site to deter further dumping of rubbish, however the land remains in private hands and keeping it safe and clear of refuse will remain the responsibility of the landowners.
If further dumping occurs, enforcement action against the fly-tippers could be pursued by the Environment Agency or the council.
Over the years nature has reclaimed the site with vegetation but Japanese Knotweed was identified and a programme is in place to eradicate the invasive plant that would otherwise have spread to adjoining land.
Cllr Phil Turner, leader of Basildon Council, said:
“The clearance of Dale Farm has been a long-term and at times complicated process, but Basildon Council’s actions have always been guided by the principle of upholding the law and protecting green belt policies in the interests of our residents. By carrying out this one-off operation, the council is drawing a line under past events at Dale Farm. In doing so, we are proud to have stayed firm to the council’s pledge to restore the land. Basildon Council’s decision to take direct action at Dale Farm was always a last resort to ensure the law was upheld. It is now the responsibility of the landowners to maintain the site in a satisfactory condition and ensure the build-up of fly-tipped waste is not repeated.”
The cost of the clearance will be paid from funding set aside for this purpose, as agreed by Full Council in 2011.
Article and image source: Basildon Council