In the High Court Basildon Council revealed that permission for the Dale Farm community to resettle on an alternative site was refused because of the possibility that newts may live there. The land, owned by the Homes and Communities Agency, was offered in August this year at no cost to Basildon Council. 
Basildon Council’s solicitor reported that the application was rejected even though the possible existence of Great Crested Newts will not be known until the spring. 
Instead of waiting until next year to assess if there are newts on the proposed site, Basildon Council chose to rejection the application and spend £18 million on a forced eviction of the Dale Farm residents.
Lord Eric Avebury, Chairman of the Department for Education Stakeholder Group on Gypsies, Romanies and Travellers, said “Unlike some Basildon residents, I’m sure the newts and bats won’t mind having a few Travellers living next door. I warmly approve the offer by the Homes and Communities Agency. Similar arrangements for Traveller sites in or near Basildon would save the £18 million budgeted for the eviction, money that could be used to fund developments that would allow the Dale Farm residents at risk to move voluntarily and peacefully to new locations. Lets hope that Tony Ball will adopt the common sense solution.”
Dale Farm supporter, Ali Saunders, added “Tony Ball’s leadership is becoming untenable. It has been shown in court that there are alternatives to a confrontational eviction strategy at huge human and financial cost. Tony Ball needs to resign or return to the negotiating table.”
The planned eviction has been the subject of increasing criticism as court proceedings continue into a third week. Labour leader Ed Miliband argued on Thursday that “instead of grandstanding, the Council should be providing alternative sites. It must be possible for them to provide an alternative site for the Travellers so that they can take the heat out of what has become a very controversial issue, which doesn’t do anyone any good.”
The Scrap yard that the Dale Farm community bought in 2001 was not known to have had protected wildlife living on the site.