Bats Fail To Hold Up Dale Fam Move

The clearance of the UK's largest illegal travellers' site at Crays Hill near Basildon is continuing - despite concerns over bats in caravans.

Basildon Council, which is overseeing the clearance of Dale Farm has commissioned an independent survey following claims about bats living in remaining static caravans.

It means two homes will not be touched until further evidence is gathered.

But the council says 36 plots have now been secured and fenced, and hard standings removed from eight. A number of static caravans have been moved off the site over the past few days.

Large amounts of rubbish have also been removed, the council added.

Tony Ball, leader of the council, said: "Work is progressing safely, professionally and lawfully and will continue to do so."

He had previously dismissed claims about protected species living on the site, saying: "All relevant surveys and assessments have been undertaken, and such spurious claims only serve to give the travellers false hope.

"The site clearance has begun and it will be finished, safely, professionally, and lawfully."

Previous reports of great crested newts living at Dale Farm have already been dismissed.

The site clearance comes after a major police and bailiff operation began last week at an estimated cost of £18 million. It follows a decade-long row over 51 unauthorised plots.