CAMPAIGNERS have handed a 1,200-name petition to Basildon Council opposing plans for a new travellers’ site in Laindon.

Residents have also written scores of objection letters against the application for 12 caravan pitches on land opposite Laindon Park Primary School, in Church Road.

Neighbours say the petition and letters show the strength of feeling against the site, which would become home to some families facing eviction from Dale Farm, in Crays Hill.

However, the travellers say the backlash proves how difficult it is for them to find anywhere legal to settle, because any plans always face such stiff opposition.

The council is set to determine the application by Grattan Puxon, of the Gypsy Council, by May 12.

Mr Puxon put forward the scheme after the landowner, the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency, suggested it as a possible relocation site, although the council has already made its opposition clear.

Residents claim the land, which is designated as a local wildlife site because of reptile and invertebrate colonies, is not suitable for development.

However, many are also vehemently opposed to a traveller site so close to their homes.

Cliff Hammans, 60, from Church Road, said: “We don’t want another Dale Farm here.

“If they moved on, there is no way they would limit it to 12 pitches. It would just grow and the council couldn’t do anything.

“If this goes ahead it will devalue our homes like it has in Crays Hill, and that is not even grounds for objecting to the application.”

Ryan Cleland, 38, from Church Road, added: “On the plans it already shows access roads at the back of the site so they could bring in more and more.”

Keeley Bailey, 32, from Princes Close, Laindon, is concerned about impact on traffic.

She said: “The access is right opposite the school so it would not be safe. They already have to close the road in winter during ice or snow, so what would happen then?”

Jilly Hyde, Tory councillor for Laindon Park is also objecting on grounds of loss of wildlife, highway issues and the effect on the school.

She said: “It is already at maximum capacity.”

TRAVELLERS are resigned to leaving Dale Farm, according to a Lib Dem peer.

Lord Avebury was among politicians and members of the All Parliamentary Group for Gipsy Roma Travellers who visited the site to speak to families.

They have now reported back to the group with recommendations on how to resolve the crisis without eviction, but the group has yet to adopt them.

Lord Avebury said: “The families are resolved to going, but need somewhere else to avoid the eviction.”

He said the group would continue to discuss any pressure it could exert on the council.

Meanwhile, Labour MP Andrew Slaughter, who joined him on the visit, raised Dale Farm during a Parliamentary debate on Irish communities.

He asked Andrew Stunell, communities minister, if he agreed eviction was not the answer.

Mr Stunell replied £60million had been set aside for sites.

He added that councils had a duty to assess traveller accommodation needs and could be given cash incentives to build sites.