DOG owners angry at plans to ban them from walking their pets without a lead at a Hampshire spot staged a demonstration in protest at the move.

More than 20 dog owners turned out to the protest, many angry at the lack of consultation over the ban which will affect dog walkers using St Catherine's Hill at Winchester.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust are also enforcing the ban to protect grazing sheep from dogs on the popular nature reserve are implementing the new rule.

The ban comes into effect next Sunday, prompting the protest organised by local busker Frank Williams, 55,.

He distributed more than 40 leaflets asking dog walkers to meet at St Catherine's Hill. Frank, who has walked his dogs on the nature reserve for 20 years, said: "I put out around 40 flyers as I wanted people that were angry about this to stand up and be counted.

"I have met about 50 people on the street who were outraged about it. So many people said they knew nothing about it.

"What's needed is a compromise between the dog owners and the trust."

A sign put up at St Catherine's Hill outlines the trust's reasons behind the ban, saying it is to provide the "best grazing regime" to improve and maintain the chalk grassland and the flowers and insects found on the nature reserve.

Mark Langford, a reserves officer at the trust, said: "St Catherine's is a site of special scientific interest because it is chalk grassland created and maintained by sheep grazing on it.

"Our job is manage the nature reserve and unfortunately for them that means they will have to put their dogs on a leash.

"We didn't ask the dog walkers what they thought about the ban because they would not have been okay with it."

As predicted, the news has not gone down well with dog owners in the area.

Emma Michel, 74, of St Leonard's Road, Winchester, said: "I have walked here for 30 years but I could not physically walk my dog on a lead as it would pull me over.

"What right has the trust got after 30 years to say I can't walk freely with my dog?"