Dale Farm eviction could cost £18m

The cost of evicting residents from the UK's largest illegal travellers' site could soar to £18 million, it is estimated.

Basildon Council officials estimate that council costs could rise to £8 million and police costs to nearly £10 million for the operation.

The council said: "The estimated direct operational cost of £6.5 million, together with estimated post-operational costs of £1.5 million, produce a total of £8 million. However, this is considered to be a worst-case scenario."

The council has committed a further £1.2 million to Essex Police if their costs exceed £5.5 million.

The Home Office announced in June that it would also pay up to £4.65 million, or half the total bill of evicting the travellers. The money will go towards policing the clearance of the site.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has also contributed £1.2 million towards the eviction.

Emma Boon, campaign director for the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Taxpayers have been paying for the Dale Farm debacle for years and most are bemused as to why these travellers don't seem to want to go anywhere.

"There is bound to be a cost when it comes to enforcing the law, but delays have added to that.

"It's seriously disappointing that this eviction has taken so long. Taxpayers are the only real losers in this battle."