BISHOPS who united to condemn the eviction have dodged questions of church land being made temporarily available to travellers.

Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell and Bishop of Brentwood, Thomas McMahon have been vocal in calling the council to halt the eviction until alternative sites are found.

There have been widespread calls for the Church of England and Catholic churches to explain why, as major landowners, they do not put up land as a temporary measure.

But spokesman for both the bishops said: “This is not a local matter but a national issue. No local diocese or any other local organisation can deliver a viable national solution.”

Bishop Cottrell, revealed he had received critical e-mails for showing support.

When asked why he was supporting illegal activity, he replied: “It’s not that I’m condoning illegal conduct, but I don’t think bulldozing the site will solve the problem. The problem will just go elsewhere.

“I’m simply saying, what are they supposed to do? There’s nowhere for them to go.

“Surely there has to be a better way than to bulldoze their homes. It’s going to cause chaos.

“Travellers feel it is not the church’s responsibility.”