FARMERS in Darwen say they are being ‘railroaded’ into having a bridleway on their land which will have ‘devastating implications’ for them.

They claim plans to create a public right of way from Victoria Buildings to Belthorn will cut off one landowner’s access to her cows and leave another concerned about the security of his home.

Michael Riley, owner of Holehouse Farm at Pickup Bank, said the original route of the path suggested by the council in 2005 would only have encroached minimally on his land, but would have cost the borough £60,000 to construct.

The updated 2012 route along Mr Riley’s road and paddock, currently being considered, will be a few feet from his house, make public half an acre of his land and devalue his property, Mr Riley claims.

He said: “I understand why people would want a bridleway through this area. I have horses myself and know there’s not that many safe places to ride them.

“But if this goes ahead, I don’t know what I’ll do. There will be quad and motorbikes racing along here at all hours. People will be able to use my garden as their own.

“I worked and saved to buy this place for peace and quiet. I’ll be devastated.”

The work will connect the West Pennine Feeder Route to the Pennine Bridleway National Trail.

Jacqueline Roebuck, a neighbouring landowner, said: “They’re just railroading over us. I won’t be able to get to my cows if they make the road public and have to fence it off.”

Darwen MP Jake Berry said: “I recently met with Mr Riley to discuss this clearly very sensitive issue. Although I am fully sympathetic to his concerns, planning falls under the remit of the council.

“I have encouraged the council to meet with Mr Riley and councillor Julie Slater so a solution can be found.”

Planning committee chairman Coun Jim Smith, said: “I will certainly be looking into this matter when it is brought in front of the committee.”

A spokesman for Capita Symonds, who provide the Public Rights of Way Service on behalf of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Despite some landowners agreeing in principle, when these negotiations have failed to result in formal agreements, research was carried out to identify whether bridleway rights already exist along the route using both historical documentary evidence and user evidence.”

Nobody at Blackburn with Darwen Council was available for comment yesterday.

Objectors to the bridleway have until Friday, May 3 to submit their representations.