Environmental racism, segregation and discrimination: Gypsy and Traveller sites in Great Britain

Alice Bloch, Katharine Quarmby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article focusses on Gypsy and Traveller communities who live on local authority managed sites around Great Britain. The subject of sites has come to the fore in the last couple of years, as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 criminalised roadside living and therefore nomadic ways of life. Using the concept of environmental racism, the article explores the proximity of sites to environmental hazards including main roads, sewage works, industry and refuse and recycling centres. The mapping of all Gypsy and Traveller sites in England, Scotland and Wales - permanent sites (291) and transit sites (60) - shows that a sizeable proportion of sites present a risk to residents’ health due to their geographical proximity to pollutants and that many are infested with vermin and flies and separated from settled communities which can result in isolation and exclusion. Case studies of Gypsy and Traveller sites shows that the location of sites is not just a historical legacy of racism as new sites are being placed in polluted and isolated areas. Sites are locally contested and racialised language and stereotypes are used to try and stop sites being placed in certain areas. Local authority planning departments are aware of the unsuitability of some site locations and their potential risk to health. However, local opposition and a homelessness crisis within the communities can leave Gypsy and Traveller people with little or no choice about site locations which can be in places that are polluted, on the margins and away from settled communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages21
JournalCritical Social Policy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2024


  • discrimination, environmental racism, Gypsy and Traveller sites, segregation


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