COUNTRYSIDE lovers have voiced concerns over National Trust plans to fence off large parts of Kingsford Country Park in Wolverley.

More than 300 people have joined a Facebook group called Kinver Edge Riders Group, which was set up in response to landscape-changing proposals announced by the trust.

The forest park was given to the National Trust by Worcestershire County Council in 2014, and later became adjoined to Kinver Edge.

The trust has confirmed plans to cut down trees at Blakeshall Common and turn it into a traditional lowland heath which would be grazed by traditional longhorn cattle.

But horse riders, dog walkers and people living nearby have expressed shock over the proposed changes.

Worried resident Claire Brooks said: “It will never be the same again. It’s horrendous.”

She said she fears the plans will “completely desecrate” the beauty spot and prevent many walkers, horse riders and cyclists from enjoying area.

There is also concern about plans to introduce horse gates and fear about riding horses near cattle.

Sharon Allan, from the Kinver Edge Riders Group, added: "There is a real concern from horse riders, many of whom will have their access denied due to difficulties with gates, particularly for disabled, young and inexperienced riders.

Another added: “I would not be comfortable riding through areas with cattle. It cannot be safe.”

The Trust says the cattle it plans to introduce are a docile breed and that they would help to create a rich habitat structure.

National Trust Countryside, gardens and parkland manager, Peter Carty, said: “We hope to restore an area of land that is currently occupied by ageing non-native conifer trees to its traditional status of lowland heath.

"This involves removing a crop of trees, which will soon be at the end of its cycle, and will benefit a great variety of wildlife including threatened species such as adders and hopefully encourage the return of nightjar and woodlark.

“As part of our plans, we held a constructive public meeting on Monday and listened to some of the concerns emerging from the local community. There were some interesting suggestions made in relation to our proposals that we had not considered. We will take these on-board and try to address some of the concerns.”