EVIDENCE given to a council that was used to halt a sawmill's operation has been disputed by the owner of the land on which the mill is located. 

Dorset's Linwood Sawmills at Willow Farm faces an uncertain future after being refused retrospective planning consent, a decision later backed by a Planning Inspector.

It was ruled the mill's use is unacceptable and harmful to the Green Belt, although the sawmill has been in place for more than ten years and employs five people.

In evidence to the Planning Inspector appeal, a neighbour said the sawmill is close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with the sawmill activities disturbing wildlife.

However, this has now been disputed by the owner of the land on which Linwood operates. 

Mr John Wakelin says the evidence to both official bodies was wrong when claiming that the sawmill is “close”, arguing instead that the SSSI is more than 170 metres away. 

He added: “Having lived at Willow Cottage for 21 years until December 2020 with the sawmill in operation, very little could be heard above road traffic noise and as for unnecessary rubbish this is complete nonsense.”

He said that a second roadside entrance was created to serve the sawmill and a steel-framed building erected with floodlighting together with a roadside advertising sign and the conversion of a garage.

He says that an enforcement notice for the site has since been issued by Dorset Council and the site is now being restored to its previous condition with a March 2024 deadline for the completion of the work.

As we have previously reported, agents acting for the business argued that the 0.37 hectare site is well located to use locally-produced timber, mainly cutting it into planks.

The agent said: “It is recognised that the use of the site includes some heavy equipment such as a rough terrain fork lift and a band saw which does create noise; however, with this site being screened on all sides by trees with no immediate neighbours, it is ideally located to operate as a sawmill without impacting on any local residents.”

Most of the activity takes place in a barn although there are also portacabins and several outbuildings, including shipping containers, which are used, together with a yard for storing timber.

Despite this, Dorset Council decided that the sawmill use was harmful to the Green Belt with no special circumstances being accepted to allow its continued use.