Joy, anger at closure of sawmill
By ZOE SATHERLEY
MUMMULGUM couple Mick and Shirley Martin are relieved Kyogle Council has closed down a portable sawmill allegedly operating illegally behind their cattle property.
However, the sawmill operators, Neil and Tracey Law, say they were led to believe the mill was legal.
The council's action may force them and their children out of their home, they claim.
"We stand to lose everything," Tracey said. "We're just ordinary folk trying to make a living and this is a huge blow for us."
The Laws moved to their property about two years ago and began operating a small portable mill.
It was their dream to set up a small home industry and build a proper small-scale sawmill.
Council approved their development application, with all but one of the conditions met.
In the meantime, the Laws have been operating their portable mill to help make ends meet as they have invested heavily in purchasing their property, building an approved sawmill and buying new machinery.
However, their neighbours, the Martins, object to the development.
Mr Martin said he has repeatedly complained to council about the mill, saying it is polluting his dam and creek, creating noise pollution and creating extra traffic on the road.
Now the council has informed the Laws that their portable mill has to close.
While the Laws have complied with the request, they are devastated.
"Throughout this whole process of getting approval for our new mill no one from council ever told us the portable mill was illegal," Tracey said.
"We were counting on being able to make a small income from it until the new mill was operational.
"At every stage of the process we have done the right thing and complied with everything that was asked of us.
"Now we are about to go belly-up. This is going to force us to sell our house. We have overheads of $10,000 a month we cannot meet. It's frightening.
"We are praying council will consider giving us an interim occupancy order for the new mill, as we have met all the criteria apart from the road and that is moving as fast as it possibly can."