THE Lulworth Estate says it is powerless to prevent the “unacceptable influx” of visitors flocking to coastal areas like Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.

The Dorset coast received national attention over the weekend after three people were seriously injured jumping off the arch of Durdle Door into the sea, with two of them being airlifted directly to hospital.

Despite the shocking events that unfolded on Saturday, pictures on Sunday showed that visitors still travelled in their droves to the Purbeck seaside.

The Lulworth Estate, owner of the land at Durdle Door, faced calls to take action to stop such large numbers from going to the beaches.

However, in a detailed statement, James Weld, who manages the estate, said they have “no means of preventing people from travelling", with this being permitted by the government’s coronavirus regulations since May 13.

Mr Weld said staff had been working hard to manage the situation on site but “with little positive assistance or input from local authorities”.

His statement said: “It is clear that the restriction on travelling should have been limited to local journeys only which would not have resulted in the huge pressures being suddenly foisted on local road networks and on sites such as Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.

“Unrestricted travel has undoubtedly lead to the unacceptable influx of visitors, despite the enormously damaging effects of restrictions on the economy and on jobs.

“Natural England and the Dorset Council are responsible for the public right of access to the beaches and cliffs. The Lulworth Estate has no power or authority to close the beaches at Lulworth, including Durdle Door beach; everyone has a legal right of access to our coastline and beaches following the Maritime and Coastal Access Act 2009.”

Bournemouth Echo: Durdle Door on Sunday, May 31. Picture: BNPSDurdle Door on Sunday, May 31. Picture: BNPS

On Sunday, while more details were still coming to light over the critical incident the previous day, Durdle Door visitors were seen climbing the arch and jumping into the sea once again.

The Lulworth Estate said it maintains signage on all sites advising visitors of the dangers of the sea, cliffs and the use of disposable BBQs, particularly in the current dry conditions.

“The Lulworth Estate staffs all sites and where possible attempts to manage access, although we are physically and legally unable to prevent visitors accessing the beaches or climbing cliffs; we advise of the dangers of both including the dangers of Covid-19 and that social distancing is not always possible,” added the statement.

Some Dorset residents have suggested the car parks at the site should be closed, however, Lulworth Estate said opening them last month before people should have even been visiting the site due to lockdown helped ease problems on local roads.

Discussing the car park and travel situation, Mr Weld’s statement said: “The opening of the car parks at Lulworth did not attract visitors, these were opened to relieve the pressure on the local road network and local community, although the publicity surrounding the opening of the car parks undoubtedly added to the number of visitors.

“The Lulworth Estate is not responsible for government policies regarding Covid-19 or the legal access to public highway and public areas; we can only respond to the numbers that arrive and our staff have worked hard to manage this influx and clear up after them with little positive assistance or input from local authorities.”