Residents are fighting to save public access to footpaths at Clifton Bury Farm after it emerged that they are expected to be closed to the public from October.

Until now, the landowner has received grants under the government's Countryside Stewardship Scheme to keep the footpaths and horse-riding areas open.

However, the government is now focusing on providing grants to landowners who turn their land into untouched wildlife areas from which humans are excluded.

As a result, public access to the walks at Clifton Bury Farm is set to close on September 30 this year.

However, local resident Drew Richardson has launched a petition that he hopes will result in action enabling the walks to stay open. To date, it has received more than 1,000 signatures.

Drew has spoken to Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) with a view to the council providing funding to enable the footpaths to remain open.

He is standing for election to CBC himself this week, in Clifton, Henlow & Langford ward.

The Comet: Drew's dog, Bailey, on a walk at Clifton Bury Farm.Drew's dog, Bailey, on a walk at Clifton Bury Farm. (Image: Drew Richardson)

Drew told the Comet: "I've sat on climate change committees, and what has really concerned me is that this [the government's environmental scheme] is almost doing the opposite of what it's supposed to do.

"We want people to be active and out walking, but we could potentially lose a really nice area.

"I have been talking to residents and this can be a lifeline of some people in the villages - mental health and exercise.

"We moved here because of the countryside and the greenery and we're going to lose it.

"I started a petition to ask why can't we push CBC to give funding to this?

"I know that CBC are meeting the land owners this week and hopefully could come up with some sort of plan to get things in place

"Even if we do not save all of the existing paths, there must be a compromise to keep some of most of the walks open as much as possible."

The Comet: Drew Richardson has started a petition that he hopes will help save public access to Clifton Bury Farm.Drew Richardson has started a petition that he hopes will help save public access to Clifton Bury Farm. (Image: Drew Richardson)

A sign posted at Clifton Bury Farm by the landowners read: "It has been very disappointing that efforts to get the government to reconsider their support of public access has fallen on deaf ears (with the Minister of Agriculture, Defra and our local MP [Nadine Dorries]).

"It has been a pleasure since we first opened the walks in 1989 to have been able to provide this amenity for friends and residents of the local area, and we will be sad to see it close."

READ MORE: Barn set alight following burglary in Bedfordshire village

However, they do retain some hope that something may be salvaged from the situation.

The Comet: Clifton Bury Farm on a sunny day.Clifton Bury Farm on a sunny day. (Image: Drew Richardson)

In a statement, the landowners said: "In principle [Central Bedfordshire] Council are keen to provide some support for a Permissive Footpath Agreement, but this would not cover the cost of the regular mowing that we have done in the past.

"Our farming situation has changed, so we are unable to continue absorbing this cost beyond September this year.

"We are keen to continue providing permissive access but in the future any footpaths may not be mown more than once or twice a year."

A spokesperson for Central Bedfordshire Council said: “We are aware and one of our Rights of Way Officers is due to meet with the farmer next week to discuss the matter further.”

Nadine Dorries MP has been contacted for comment on this article.

Drew Richardson's petition can be viewed here.