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Unauthorised sites

Unauthorised sites are where a person or group camps (in vans, trailers or any other moveable accommodation) on land that they do not own, and where they do not have permission to stay.

The Scottish Government has guidance on managing unauthorised camping by Gypsy Travellers.

All local councils have their own policy for handling unauthorised sites. It's their responsibility to balance the needs of the travelling community and the settled community in the area.

Report unauthorised camping

Unauthorised sites will be investigated by the council's Gypsy Traveller Liaison Officer (GTLO) or the most appropriate council representative. They'll then contact the part of the council that manages the land or, if it's private land, the land owner, to decide whether the area is suitable for people to use.

Aberdeen City Council Aberdeenshire Council Angus Council Argyll and Bute Council Clackmannanshire Council Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) Dumfries & Galloway Council Dundee City Council East Ayrshire Council East Dunbartonshire Council East Lothian Council East Renfrewshire Council Edinburgh Council Falkirk Council Fife Council Glasgow City Council Highland Council Inverclyde Council Midlothian Council Moray Council North Ayrshire Council North Lanarkshire Council Orkney Islands Council Perth & Kinross Council Scottish Borders Council Shetland Council South Ayrshire Council South Lanarkshire Council Stirling Council West Dunbartonshire Council West Lothian Council

Unauthorised site removal

It's up to the land owner to decide whether they want to take back possession of the land the site is on. If it's decided that the site must move, the Gypsy Travellers on the site will be notified in writing with a request to remove the camp and the reasons why.

If the site is not removed within the notice period further legal proceedings with the sheriff court may follow. However, you can formally request an appeal of the decision.

Living on an unauthorised site

If you're living on an unauthorised site or choosing the location for one, there are responsibilities that you need to meet.

Consider contacting the GTLO when you arrive in an area, this helps them assess and meet your needs.

Choosing a suitable location

Unsuitable locations include:

  • a site of scientific or environmental interest
  • parks, public open spaces in regular use, sports and recreation grounds
  • a site where pollution could damage water courses/water supply
  • an area with toxic waste, serious ground pollution or other environmental hazards
  • on a public road
  • on the side of a road, including laybys
  • near a railway line

Taking care of the land your site is on

When living on an unauthorised site you should:

  • be respectful of people living nearby
  • keep animals under control at all times
  • dispose of litter and other rubbish in an appropriate way
  • get rid of animal and human waste hygienically
  • don't start fires without written permission from the local council or landowner
  • keep groups small and appropriate to the location
  • minimise the noise from generators

If you are unsure of any of this information contact your local council's GTLO.

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