CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to keep using a hotly disputed coastal footpath at Blue Anchor as 'the red tape is proving too slow'.

In February, members of the Blue Anchor Chalet Owners Association fenced off the 300 yard stretch of footpath which runs past the properties, directing walkers using the £637,000 Steam Coast Trail down a steep pebble bank onto the beach.

The Ramblers Association have appealed for Somerset County Council to settle the dispute, saying the route is a public right of way and has been for more than 40 years.

The protestors had hoped, due to the number of people affected and the friction the dispute is creating, that the contested footpath application would meet the 'exceptional criteria' needed to fast-track it, however Somerset County Council's regulation committee refused this meaning it could be years before the issue is legally resolved.

Ivor Sutton from the Ramblers Association said: "Our next step is to appeal to the Secretary of State for Defra. More than 120 people filled in evidence forms to prove they have used the footpath as a right of way without interruption for more than 20 years. It is a health and safety matter too, the path they encourage us to use along the beach is under water twice a day." he said.

Campaigner Jim Butterworth added: "It was most rewarding to see how many people are prepared to demonstrate their concern that the Public Footpath might be lost. The red tape is proving too slow - we shall just keep using the path."

Somerset County Council said it was 'not possible' to give an accurate estimate of when the application will be determined.