NATURE lovers are celebrating after winning the battle to open up access to one of the county’s “most spectacular outdoor attractions”.

Worthing Borough Council has dedicated more than 150 acres of land at Mount Carvey and Tenants Hill for public access and enjoyment just six years after threatening to sell it off.

Ramblers, families and nature lovers will now be free to enjoy the land close to the ancient Cissbury Ring on the top of the downs above Worthing following the decision.

It follows a campaign led by the Worthing Downlanders (formerly the Stop the Cissbury Sell Off group) and The Open Spaces Society against plans to sell-off the land following the death of a tenant farmer in 2009.

The council was set to benefit by up to £4 million from the sale of the agricultural land but backtracked in the face of protests and agreed to long-term leases rather than selling freeholds on farm buildings and land.

The 5,000 year-old Cissbury Ring is considered one of the jewels in the crown of the South Downs National Park and is the largest hill fort in Sussex covering 65 acres.

A Worthing Downlanders spokesperson said: “This is a great result for ‘people power’ and means that we will have the ‘right to roam’ in perpetuity.

“It is also a good result for Worthing Borough Council as it has helped provide an area on the Downs that everyone can now enjoy.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the campaign, the council and all the other working group members.”

Councillor Daniel Humphreys, Worthing Borough Council leader, said he was delighted that the dedication had been agreed.

He said: "I regularly walk around this area with my family who all love it too.

"This dedication will help to ensure that people in Worthing are able to enjoy active and healthy lifestyles by safeguarding our area’s unique natural environment.

"A key consideration behind the decision for Worthing Borough Council was maximising public access.

"The South Downs is one of Worthing’s most spectacular outdoor attractions and by preserving the land at Mount Carvey and Tenants Hill, this area can be of benefit and enjoyment to both visitors and local residents."