A concerned villager fears there is soon going to be an 'awful accident' as visitors to a beach continue to sit underneath crumbling cliffs.

Tom Knapp says he has regularly noticed people setting up for picnics under the cliff faces at Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock. 

This stretch of the west Dorset coastline has seen a number of rockfalls in recent months, including one on the beach itself just a few weeks ago.

And back in July 2012, 22-year-old Charlotte Blackman, from Derbyshire, was killed in a tragic accident near Freshwater after a massive landslip occurred. 

Mr Knapp, who lives near Hive Beach, says he has frequently warned people of the dangers while he is walking past, and says that many are happy to take his advice and move to a safer spot.

But he wants the authorities to do more to encourage visitors away from the cliffs- especially with the peak summer months fast approaching.

The pensioner told The News that the visitors he has spoken to underneath the cliffs have been 'smart' people, including a doctor.

Dorset Echo: Visitors sitting under crumbling cliffs at Burton BradstockVisitors sitting under crumbling cliffs at Burton Bradstock (Image: Tom Knapp)

"I walk along here regularly and I know there is going to be an awful accident before long," Mr Knapp said.

"We are not doing enough. People say they [the visitors] are stupid but they are not - not long ago a family was setting up in the most dangerous position and he was a doctor.

"I think a lot of organisations need to be pro-active and do something."

The National Trust owns large parts of land adjacent to the beach and the National Coastguard Institution charity has a lookout point at the beach, while signs have also been erected to warn visitors of the dangers.

Mr Knapp has called on both groups to improve safety messaging and ensure a fatal accident does not occur.

"We see what is happening and the amount of rocks that are falling at almost any time, it is quite incredible," he said. 

"I want someone to take this thing seriously. I have put it to them [the NCI] that they are not doing enough. Someone will be killed."

Dorset Echo: Visitors have continued to sit under cliffs at Burton Bradstock despite warning signsVisitors have continued to sit under cliffs at Burton Bradstock despite warning signs (Image: Tom Knapp)

Mr Knapp claimed that signage at Burton Bradstock beach is being ignored by the majority of visitors and wanted new measures to be taken.

Judy Clarke, station manager at the Burton Bradstock NCI lookout, said she is 'very well acquainted' with Mr Knapp, who has been expressing 'strongly-held views' since 2019.

"He often visits the Hive Beach lookout and makes his views known to the watchkeepers on duty," she added. 

"I have spoken and emailed Mr Knapp on many occasions to explain exactly what the NCI's remit is.

"Whilst the cliffs are undoubtedly extremely dangerous, the NCI has no jurisdiction over members of the public.

"Mr Knapp has been advised to take his concerns to the National Trust, with perhaps a view to increasing the signage on the beach.

"I believe that he is an excellent one-man band at issuing warnings but to do such a thing is putting his own life in jeopardy."

Dorset Echo: People at Burton Bradstock beach sitting underneath cliffsPeople at Burton Bradstock beach sitting underneath cliffs (Image: Jennifer Mulcahey)

Leo Henley-Lock, National Trust countryside manager for West Dorset, added: "The coast and cliffs along this stretch of the coast are unstable and naturally liable to landslips at any time. 

"We urge people to take the time to read warning signs and follow instructions. 

"People should always stay well back from the cliff edges, whether on or below them, and we ask people not to visit slips as secondary slips may occur without warning."