On Monday we reported that an MP had made some pretty damning comments about mountain bikers at Great Wood in the Quantocks.
Ian Lidell-Grainger, who represents the Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency, was quoted in the Western Morning News as saying that mountain bikers were “desecrating” the Area of Natural Beauty.
He said: “The bikers are chopping down trees, carving their own routes through the woods and building jumps, all of which go well beyond what is acceptable.” He also raised concerns about other forest users being in danger from large groups of mountain bikers.
Watch some mountain bikers not terrorising anyone on Rachel Atherton’s Foxhunt helmet cam
This caused a large backlash in the comments section and on social media. Today the Forestry Commission has responded to the claims.
Nick Salter, area forester for Somerset at the Forestry Commission said: “We encourage everyone to visit and enjoy the forests we manage across England.
“Occasionally the different activities may cause tensions between them or concerns about damage from other visitors. If we see dangerous trails people have built we will remove them and encourage serious incidents to be reported to us so we can follow them up.”
He also confirmed that the Forestry Commission had met with mountain bikers and residents to improve understanding and respect between the two groups. He said: “We listen to people carefully and talk to individuals and user groups to try and resolve issues. Incidents at Great Wood have been reported to us, but not in detail so we have not been able to investigate them thoroughly.
“We have also made contact with Mr Liddell-Grainger to suggest that we meet with him and explain how we are managing this issue and the wider forest and the positive engagement that is taking place.”
Ian Lidell-Grainger has been the Conservative MP for Bridgewater and West Somerset since 2010. He has been described as “divisive” by his local council and is the great-great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria.