Squatters living on Raven's Ait, a multimillion pound island in the Thames, have bragged that they are able to drag out eviction procedures for months.

At a debate on the future use of the island at Kingston University on Friday night, they mapped out their plans to turn the former wedding and conference centre into an “eco-centre”, despite an eviction from Kingston Council hanging over them.

Group leader Peter Phoenix, 38, said he was optimistic that their hearing at Kingston County Court this Thursday, March 19, could be delayed to buy the group more time on the island.

He said: “I've been homeless for 18 years and done court cases for 16 years. We're quite good at it and we've had quite a lot of adjournments. We made one court case last 13 months.”

Squatter Nick Coulson added: “Most of us here don't want to cost the council thousands of pounds on a court case. We might have threatened to dig in but that was a knee-jerk reaction to bring them to the discussion table.”

Bosses at Kingston Council and police officers visited the squatters on Friday to ask them to leave before the court hearing, in an attempt to reduce the financial burden on the taxpayer, but the group has vowed to stay put.

Members of the group have squatted all over the capital at locations including a community centre in Peckham and a £10m Hampstead mansion.

They took control of Raven's Ait on the weekend of February 22, but insist they are “caretakers” who are helping to keep the buildings secure.

The 12-strong group of squatters asked for their Raven's Ait Eco Conference Centre idea to be taken seriously by the council and have been given until Monday to submit a formal proposal for it.

Other offers on the table have come from local businesses, including Hotel Antoinette and a consortium lead by Turks Launches, who both want to keep it as an entertainment venue.

The squatters hosted their second environmental film evening on Saturday night, inviting people into their “cinema room” to watch Al Gore's global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth.