IAN Liddell-Grainger, MP for the Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency, has called on locals to look out for and report any incidents of countryside vandalism.

The Somerset MP believes there is a reoccurring rise in these incidents over the Christmas and New Year periods, as many set out for traditional walks over the festive season.

He hopes 'having thousands of extra eyes on the ground' will help the authorities to clamp down on damaging or polluting incidents, as well as fly tipping.

Mr Liddell-Grainger has asked walkers to report any suspected pollution of rivers or beaches to the Environment Agency and to notify police of any environmentally-damaging activities such as off-road driving.

In the last few weeks, wardens on the Quantock Hills came across ‘irreparable’ vehicle damage caused by joyriders on Quantock Common, a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the heart of the National Landscape.

Since the incident, steps are now being taken to install boulders to prevent vehicular access and the culprits are being warned they could face prison - but Mr Liddell-Grainger says the reality is that in the absence of visual evidence of the vandals, the chances of them being caught are slim.

Now Mr Liddell-Grainger says walkers and ramblers should be prepared to record and report any similar incidents they witness over the holidays.

“If we can catch these people in the act and only one of them gets handed a prison term that will act as a mighty powerful deterrent to others,” he said.

The Bridgwater and West Somerset MP also appealed for people to report fly-tipping - always a particular problem around Christmas - while watching out for any suspected water pollution on beaches and in rivers.

“The Government has recently announced a really fierce crackdown on water pollution and is upping the penalties to reflect this tough, new stance,” he said.

“Any illegal sewage discharges, or pollution incidents apparently linked to farm waste should be reported immediately.”

Earlier in 2023, the MP accused the Environment Agency of having a 'hidden agenda' against Somerset farmers.

“Farmers are not wilfully polluting the environment and it is unreasonable to abruptly impose higher compliance levels on them and demand results within a month when water companies are being given years," he said.

“If it (the Environment Agency) has a secret agenda to clear livestock farming off the Levels then it needs to make it public - and do so immediately.”