Basildon Council has approved a second eviction operation to remove travellers living illegally in Crays Hill.

The development control committee voted to send bailiffs in to clear about 20 caravans parked illegally in Oak Lane, next to the former Dale Farm encampment.

The caravans have been there since Dale Farm was demolished in a £7million operation more than a year ago and are camping on land owned by a Crays Hill resident who wants them off.

An eviction is not expeceted imminently as travellers have already applied for a High Court judicial review against a decision by Communities Secretery Eric Pickles preventing them having an appeal hearing against the original council enforcement notices which expired in September.

Council leader Tony Ball said: “While I cannot comment directly on the committee decision, it is clearly in line with our determination to enforce and uphold the law but tempered with the need to make sensible and pragmatic decisions based on the situation.

“Nothing has changed in our attitude to dealing with illegal development or protecting the green belt, and we remain a local authority that will continue to deal with law breaking and serious breaches of planning control.

“Local residents expect us to be consistent and treat everyone the same, and that it is exactly what we are doing at Oak Lane.  The committee have made an independent decision based on all the facts before them.  In this instance, they have resolved to take direct action, but made the decision to defer action to await the outcome of the judicial review against the planning inspectorate which relates to the notices served by the council."

Mary Flynn, a former Dale Farm resident, said: "There are more travellers than there are sites, so where do they expect us to live? It's so hard to tell my children that we're never going to get to go home."

Stuart Hardwick-Carruthers, a campaigner for the travellers, said the council should postpone any eviction until the new site planned at Gartdiners Way, Basildon, is built.

But Mr Ball added: "I said after Dale Farm that we would work with travellers, and while I welcome them going through due process to get approval of a traveller site at Gardiners Way, it is irrelevant to this enforcement action.  The site could take two years to develop and is still subject to funding approvals.  There will also be an allocation policy in place that will allocate place on local need, so it should not be seen as a solution to the Oak Lane issue, because it is not.”