DOG walkers claim they have been shut out after a popular route to the coastal path was fenced off.

Residents of Weston, Portland, say that walkers have been accessing the island cliff path from behind Croft Road for more than 40 years.

They were stunned when a barbed wire fence was erected around the Albion Stone-owned land, which is now rented out for horses to be kept on.

Croft Road resident Jennifer Reynolds said: “Myself and a significant number of other residents are most annoyed about it.

“People have been using this route for 40 or 50 years.

“This has been open ground all my life. Do they want to shut the island off so people cannot walk here?”

The residents claim that the alternative route they now have to use to access the coastal path is dangerous.

Mrs Reynolds said: “They’ve fenced it off and shut us all out.

“We didn’t get any notice this was going to happen.

“There is now no access to cliff paths, only over a high bank which is dangerous.”

Mossie Carmody, of Croft Road, regularly walks his dog Barkis along the cliff path.

He said: “I think this is terrible. The pathway should be kept open. I don’t know why this has been done.”

Residents are urging people to make a complaint to resident coordinator Steve Guest who is putting together a right of way claim.

More than 50 complaints have been received so far.

Dog fosterer Kim Campbell, of Wakeham Road, said she has had to change the route of her dog walks as a result. She said: “If one of the dogs is pulling then I can’t go up and across the bank.”

Michael Poultney, managing director of Albion Stone, said the land was rented out because of problems with fly tipping.

He said the land is popular with fly-tippers because it runs alongside vehicular access to Blacknor Fort.

Mr Poultney said: “Someone said they wanted to have a horse on the land. We were glad because the land needed a bit of tidying.

“Once someone finally started tidying up there it seemed to be open season on fly-tipping.”

Albion Stone is keen to hear from any residents who wish to comment on the land.

Any residents who wish to contact Albion Stone about the land should call 01737 771772.

A SPOKESMAN for Dorset County Council's Rights of Way team said residents can submit a claim for the path to be a public right of way.

He said: “We have received a number of complaints from people that a fence has been put across a path near Blacknor Fort on Portland. We have visited the site with a resident and found that the path is not on the definitive map of public rights of way.

“The fact that a fence has been placed across the path brings into challenge the public’s right to use the path.

“We have provided the resident with a pack to use to submit a claim for the path to be included on Dorset’s definitive map.”

Anyone who has evidence that can be used for the claim should contact resident coordinator Steve Guest on 01305 860952.