OWNERS of a Corfe Mullen woodland have said they are "shocked and dismayed" at the "aggressive response" of members of the public to their plans for a yurt campsite.

Paradise Farms Ltd presented their proposals for nine yurts at Stoney Down Plantation at a meeting of Corfe Mullen Parish Council planning committee. As many as 75 concerned residents attended the small parish hall.

A spokesman for the company said "propaganda leaflets" had been handed out and "unfounded rumours" were circulating on the internet.

He told the Echo that during the meeting, company representatives were "heckled" and referred to as "the enemy" "a liar" and "a shark" then "pursued outside" by individuals, who "aggressively made personal attacks and derogative comments." Contractors in the woods has also been "verbally abused" by the public, he added.

Corfe Mullen county councillor and chairman of Corfe Mullen Parish Council Susan Jeffries - who wasn't at the meeting on October 13 - later took to Facebook to express how "appalled and disgusted" she was to hear of a "baying mob who abused them and continued to abuse them outside after the meeting."

But fellow parish councillor Anne Holland, who chaired the meeting, said: "Nobody was out of hand, there wasn't any shouting." She was not aware of what happened outside the meeting hall.

A formal planning application has yet to be submitted, but the Paradise Farms have said the proposal will be for "a four to five acre low-impact eco camping site" within the privately owned woodland, which is crossed with paths and a public bridleway popular with walkers and horse riders.

Residents have expressed concerns over tree thinning and other works already undertaken, as well as for the future of the site.

Dr Tim Howard told the Echo: "There is huge local opposition to a possible development on what is, and has been for decades, the last bit of untouched woodland on the northern outskirts of Poole, with limited access, lots of protected flora and fauna, and lying within the Green Belt.

"There are many other issues, especially - an already dangerous road, limited access, protected rare plants, birds and animals, an adjacent SSSI, etc, all of which need proper evaluation."

In a statement the owners insist it is their intention to undertake some "long overdue forestry maintenance work" and "not to restrict public access...but to enhance the area and manage the woodland for the long-term benefit of the many."

It adds: "An area of approximately 30m sq. has been cleared in the centre of the woodland and stoned using 100% recycled hard-core to facilitate welfare amenities for the forestry work which will commence towards the end of this year."

Dorset Police confirmed they had been informed of what had occurred at the meeting and issued safety advice to the person who informed them.