WORKMEN will be erecting a one-metre high fence along the Millennium Cycleway to create a new path for horse riders.

The plans to create a fenced-off bridleway have upset local residents who claim it will urbanise the countryside even further.

But the North Lancashire Bridleway Society is delighted that horses will now be allowed to use the popular path for a one-year trial period.

County council workmen will be putting up the lightweight fencing alongside the existing route between Denny Beck Bridge in Halton and Bull Beck picnic site near Caton.

But local residents - still angry at the installation of street lights and controversial public art works - claim the new fence will further disrupt the wildlife.

"It was a beautiful natural riverside path but it's been concreted, lit up with street lamps and now we're told we're getting a fence along the most beautiful bit from Denny Beck to Bull Beck," said Lindsey Mills.

"We're not against horses using it, that's okay, but the fence will look ugly and installing it will cause further disruption. I'm waiting for the day they start painting double yellow lines!"

Another resident, Mr Woodhouse, said: "What's causing a lot of concern is the fact that the flora and fauna has just begun to re-establish itself. Some people have put wild flower seeds along there and the flowers are coming up lovely."

Ward councillor Paul Woodruff admitted the fence was not ideal and said: "I can understand the need to keep horses separate but I'm disappointed about putting up the fencing on the verges which will disrupt the plants which have started to grow back."

John Beck, Chairman of North Lancashire Bridleway Society, said: "We've not asked for the fencing, that was called for by United Utilities who licence part of the route, but we very much welcome allowing the cyclepath to be used by riders.

Because of the increased speed and volume of traffic we've been squeezed off the roads and this will provide a bridleway that is safe.

"We've had a bridleway from Glasson Dock to Lancaster now for some years and there have been no complaints. Ultimately we'd like to ride from Glasson all the way up the Lune Valley."

A County Council spokesman added: "We've had a long period of consultation with horse riders and they will be allowed to use the path between Denny Beck and Bull Beck. We license part of the cyclepath from United Utilities who insisted that the fence be put in place to keep the horses off the Tarmac."