CONCERNS have been raised over the future of a popular Wareham Forest site that could be scarred for years if plans for sand and gravel extraction get the go-ahead.

The Gore Heath site, which includes Lawson Clump, near Sandford, is one of 44 proposed areas that form part of a County Hall minerals and waste consultation.

Dorset County Council has hosted a number of public exhibitions on its Mineral Sites Plan, which will ultimately help shape where mineral extraction takes place across the county.

Members of the public have until today to register their comments on the document, which is available to view online.

Sandford resident Alan Jailler, whose house overlooks Wareham Forest, said: “There are many objections to this, as it is one of the major forested areas in Dorset that has public access.

“To lose that would be devastating.

“It’s also in a very sensitive ecological area, adjoining a nature reserve.”

Another Sandford resident, Liz Donnelly, who walks her dogs in Wareham Forest, said: “I was flabbergasted to learn there are plans to turn the area along the B3075, between Sherford Bridge and Great Ovens, into a site for extracting sand and gravel.

Council documents show around seven million tonnes of sand and gravel are at the 145-hectare site.

However, officials are keen to stress that nothing is decided, and the views of residents will be considered before moving to the next stage of the process.

County council planning policy team head Mike Garrity said: “We strongly encourage people to view the plans and send us their comments by the end of the consultation.”

The deadline for the public consultation is 4pm today.

Visit, email or call 01305 228571 for more information.