EAST Dorset residents will battle plans to construct a transit site for travellers and gypsies in woodland at a public meeting this month.

The Friends of Uddens and Canon Hill Woodland presented Dorset County and East Dorset District councils with a petition signed by 6,500 people last year to protest against the plans.

However, Friends’ chairman Michael Gorse said the site is still favoured despite opposition, and has called for the group’s first meeting on June 28 at 7.30pm in the Colehill Memorial Hall to allow everyone to have their say on the proposals.

He said: “It is serious. The plans are for 25 pitches, each of which can house four caravans, so we could be looking at up to 100 vans and caravans on the land.”

Mr Gorse said the group is not an anti-traveller organisation, and would fight any proposed development on the land.

“If it were houses, a school, a doctor’s surgery, we would feel exactly the same way,” he said.

“We don’t want this land to be developed by anyone or for any purpose.”

He said there is a ‘serious danger’ the site will be chosen, adding: “When a site was proposed in Christchurch, the residents produced a 1,600-strong petition and the town council removed the site from the process.

“Similarly, when Bournemouth residents raised a petition of 1,000 signatures against their proposed site, Bournemouth Council immediately removed all sites in Bournemouth from the process.”

County councillor Janet Dover will talk about the general dangers of future developments in the woodlands, followed by the head of countryside and business development for the council, David Ayre.

Andrew Norris of the Forestry Commission will also give a presentation on the woodland wildlife, before the Friends update the audience on the work they are undertaking in the woods.

A Dorset County Council spokesperson was unavailable for comment.