What to do if travellers set up camp on your site

Out-Law Guide | 23 Aug 2011 | 12:46 pm | 1 min. read

This guide was last updated in August 2011.

This guide looks at some of the things you should do if travellers set up camp on an area of land that you own in Scotland. The most important thing to bear in mind is that the travellers will have gone through this process on numerous occasions and know the steps that a landowner has to take before they will be ordered to leave.

Who should you contact?

  • Contact local police and the local authority to let them know - this may prompt officers to ask travellers to move, or to monitor their behaviour.
  • Contact a solicitor.

What information does a solicitor need?

  • Where are the travellers?
  • How many vehicles are on site?
  • How many travellers are on site?
  • Are the travellers acting in a threatening manner?
  • Is there a reason why the travellers should be removed from the site with urgency? For example, is the land being marketed for sale or are the travellers blocking access or dumping rubbish?

The answer to this last question is important in trying to convince a sheriff that the usual timescales to be followed in a court action should be shortened. There is usually an initial 21 day notice period for the travellers to confirm to the court whether or not the 'application for removal' (see below) is opposed, and a 14 day notice period after the grant of a decree, before travellerstravellers can be 'moved on' by sheriff officers.

What can a solicitor do?

First step: instruct sheriff officers to serve notices demanding the travellers vacate the site within 24 hours. This is unlikely to be successful in getting them to move but will demonstrate that they have been asked to leave, that they have refused to do so and that court action is necessary.

Second step: raise a court action for recovery of heritable property – effectively evicting the travellers from the land – in the local sheriff court.

The timing can be anything between eight days and eight weeks and will depend on whether or not a sheriff is convinced that there are justifiable reasons for reducing the usual periods of notice in a court action (see above).