Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 18:36 UK

Island sale blocked over dispute

Poole Harbour
The sale of the island off Poole Harbour is on hold

The sale of an island in Dorset has been put on hold over requests from walkers for the island to be listed as a public right of way.

The uninhabited Long Island, in Poole Harbour, was put up for sale in 2007 with a price tag of £1.5m.

Dorset County Council received a rights-of-way application last autumn and is now investigating claims that walkers have used the paths for years.

The island's estate agent said the sale is on hold until the issue is resolved.

The council said if walkers can prove the claims, the land will be decreed a public right of way.

Vanessa Penny, from Dorset County Council, said: "Investigations like this can take a number of years until resolution.

'Risk of fire'

"The council needs to speak to all interested parties and conduct historical analysis of the evidence put forward."

Brian Panton of the Dorset Area of the Ramblers' Association, said: "If these pathways have been in use for a number of years we would support what these people are trying to do.

"If walkers have used these routes for a long time then owners should accept the situation and allow it to continue."

Nigel Still, from Stephen Noble Lane Fox Estate Agents, said the sale would be delayed indefinitely.

He added that he feared the additional publicity "could attract more people, increasing the risk of fire and other accidents on this beautiful nature reserve".

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