TRAVELLERS occupying an unauthorised caravan site in Newent have defied an order telling them to leave the land.

The travellers moved onto the land off Southend Lane, which they own, in May 2009, put down hardstanding and installed utilities.

Forest of Dean District Council issued an enforcement notice ordering them to leave, which the travellers appealed against. After a public inquiry, the travellers were told in January 2010 they had to vacate the land – but were given until January 31, 2012, to do so.

The deadline passed on Monday and, as of Wednesday, they were still there.

Mark Greening, of residents’ group Newent RAID (Residents Against Inappropriate Development), said: “The two years temporary planning permissions seemed reasonable and fair in order to allow the district council and the gipsies time to find and approve other sites in the area.

“The council and its officers have worked tirelessly to find and provide more pitches.

“It was therefore more than a disappointment that the gipsies have refused to heed the planning inspectorate’s decision and vacate the site. A new application recently submitted for the same site appears to suggest that they believe they are above any decision.”

A council spokesperson said: “We are reviewing the position to consider whether there is a breach of planning control and whether to take any action. We are carrying out a detailed site investigation.”