EDDC blocks occupation to protect Pebblebed Heaths


- Credit: Archant

Gypsies are being blocked from occupying land that adjoins East Devon’s Pebblebed Heaths in an ‘unprecedented’ move to protect the environmentally sensitive area.

The district council has taken out an injunction to prevent the unlawful residential development of a gypsy-owned plot in Hawkerland – which would have a ‘significant’ impact on the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Pebblebed Heaths is a highly sensitive area of land and acutely important in both planning and environmental terms.

They have a triple-designated status – as a special protection area, special area of conservation and a site of special scientific interest.

An East Devon District Council spokesman (EDDC) said: “Residential development of this site poses increased risks in relation to activities such as cycling and dog walking and the inevitable effect this would have on the wildlife, together with greater risks of fires, fly tipping, soil compaction and erosion.

“It was clear to the council that, given the extraordinary level of protection covering the site, together with the blatant breach of planning control, the requirement for this pre-emptive injunction is highly expedient and undoubtedly in the public interest.

“The injunction demonstrates the zero tolerance approach that planning officers will ultimately take when faced with persistent and flagrant breaches of planning law and the Local Plan, particularly when East Devon’s protected environment is so clearly threatened.”

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The plot in Hawkerland has been monitored by council officers for a number of years, due to its untidy state and concerns raised by neighbouring residents.

The EDDC spokesman said it has long been contentious and the recent installation of a caravan shows the intention to occupy the site – contrary to the emerging Local Plan.

The injunction prevents the owner from using the land for residential purposes and forbids the development of the land without planning permission.