CAMPAIGNERS say disabled access to a beauty spot is now non-existent after some access points were closed off amid fears about walkers using it during military operations.

Entrances to Middlewick Ranges, Colchester, have been blocked off after fears people were ignoring red flag warnings.

The Wick, as it is affectionately known, is a Ministry of Defence firing range, but is also a popular walking spot for residents.

Stiles have been removed from the access points and mesh fencing put up.

Signs tell residents where they can get alternative access.

The Ministry of Defence took the decision in a bid to protect residents from the dangers the firing range poses.

But a Freedom of Information request has since confirmed no injuries have been recorded at The Wick for at least ten years.

Residents say everything from posts, barbed wire, and hedge cuttings have been put in place by the MoD in a bid to deter residents from attempting to access to the site.

They say they now have to travel along a narrow lane which has no footpath and is in close proximity to speeding traffic in order to get to a dogwalking field.


Concern has also been raised disabled friendly access points have been made inaccessible which, despite the best efforts of residents, continue to be blocked up.

Campaigners say a 70-year-old disabled man fell and slashed his face on fencing installed in Weir Lane to keep people out of the site.

Trevor Salmon, who is calling on the MoD to reopen the range, said: “Residents are up in arms as they have to access the dog walking field along Weir Lane, and navigate a ditch and bank to get to the gate.

“They have also opened the only disabled friendly access point twice, but the MoD have totally blocked off the entrance.

“A disabled man then fell trying to get his dogs to the field, cutting his face open on the fence.

“Numerous comments have been posted online and residents have cleared another access point but nobody knows why the MoD has taken this action against them, especially the disabled and elderly.”

There has been speculation that the blocking of access could be due to the fact there are plans being created to build 1,000 homes at Middlewick, but the MoD denies this.

They say the move was made solely based on safety.

A spokesperson for The Ministry of Defence said: "We were not aware of this unfortunate incident.

"The MOD takes the safety of the public very seriously and the fencing is in place to reduce incursions on the MOD training estate."