A SECTION of the South West Coast Path may never reopen after it was battered by Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis.

Part of the path on the stretch between Ferrybridge and Pirates Cove in Wyke Regis was damaged and has collapsed following the recent extreme weather.

South West Coast Path national trail officer Richard Walton said: "The section of coast path in the picture is managed by Dorset Council. This particular footpath has been subject to erosion for some time, although the situation has deteriorated in the last few days as a result of the recent storms.

"Dorset Council are reviewing the situation on the ground to see what signage and other measures may be required.

"Longer term measures to reinstate the path will be subject to a range of factors including engineering advice, cost and funding availability."

A Dorset Council spokesperson said: "Our rangers have visited the site placed barriers to stop people walking down there. The path has been officially closed and an inland diversion is in place.

"We do not anticipate this path ever reopening due to the significant erosion that continues to take place."

They said Council workers have been installing wooden barriers with information on the closure and the diversion on Friday and will be doing more work on Monday.

A diversion has been created by Dorset Council while the footpath is closed. The alternative route takes a footpath from the Ferrybridge Roundabout on Portland Road which comes out at Walker Crescent. Walkers are then asked to continue along Marlborough Avenue, before turning left on South Road and taking a footpath to rejoin the coastal path near Weymouth Camping and Caravan Park.

Portland resident Becky Blake, 48, said: "The problem lies with Dorset Council not doing anything to replace or repair the area.

"Firstly there were a couple of flimsy A4 bits of paper that have blown away so little warning and very dangerous.

"This is a vital piece of coastal path is important not just to wildlife and locals but our visitors too. The pathway has been collapsing for a while but since the recent storms these past weeks there's been a dramatic fall.

"I'm looking for the unitary to do something soon before this area is lost forever. My immediate plan is to try to get Dorset Council to take action, failing that, seek permission, source some funding and form a group of volunteers.

"Better still would be to form a collaboration of all mentioned so we can work together and protect this beautiful walk."

Wyke Regis councillor Lucy Hamilton said: "First and foremost the council has to consider the safety of path users.

"It is very muddy along there. This section of path has been closed because it has been impassable for some time, the latest bit of damage has made things worse."