PUBLIC MEETING: Social distancing measures and the wearing of face masks were strictly enforced at Evenwood Parish Council
PUBLIC MEETING: Social distancing measures and the wearing of face masks were strictly enforced at Evenwood Parish Council

THE owners of a log business has moved to quash rumours that it plans to build a sawmill on land in Ramshaw following concerns from residents.

Evenwood Parish Council unwittingly found itself embroiled in dispute between a timber yard and its neighbours when it held its first face-to-face meeting since Covid-19 restrictions were enforced.

Councillors was surprised when a representative from Graham’s Logs arrived to quash rumours about developments on land the company has bought in Ramshaw

A neighbour also attended who said HGVs visiting the site posed a risk to pedestrians.

The meeting, held last week, took place under strict Covid-19 measures with everyone wearing face masks and spaced more than two metres apart.

Invited to speak first, Graham Vipond, fom Graham’s Logs, said: “Just to put the story straight, no sawmill is going in there and no biomass plant is going in there. It is purely for the storage of timber, which is agricultural class, and for keeping a pony, or sheep or whatever we keep on an agricultural basis.”

However, the neighbour said the piles of logs on the land were an eyesore and the HGVs going to the site posed a danger.

She said: “I live opposite in Ramshaw Row and we

wouldn’t normally get big trucks coming up our tiny little road before all of this.

“We have two little kids – there is no footpath, our gate goes straight out onto the road.”

Asked by parish council chairwoman Cllr Barbara Nicholson what the purpose of the site was, Mr Vipond said it was used purely for storing and air-drying logs.

Kiln drying was done elsewhere, the meeting heard.

Mr Vipond added: “We have spent in excess of £100,000 on concrete and infrastructure at West Auckland where our main business is – we have no intentions of a sawmill on that land [in Ramshaw].”

The representative said the company has asked county planners for pre-application advice about creating a new private entrance to the site.

Asked if this would solve the problem, the neighbour replied: “It probably would because then they wouldn’t be coming right by my house.”

Cllr Nicholson replied: “Would it not be in your interest, or to make it a bit more friendly, to get together with everybody and tell them what you are doing because these people on Ramshaw Row are thinking the worst.

“I think you should get together with the neighbours and try and sort it out somehow. There is obviously some bad feeling, isn’t there?”

Mr Vipond said no rights of way would be affected by a new entrance but there was an issue about dog walkers using another public footpath across nearby fields.

He said: “Every bit of the crop is not worth any money whatsoever because it is full of dog muck. All the crop – four to six bales – it is all lost.”