Plans to create a new mountain biking centre within Exmoor National Park have been described as 'utterly unacceptable' by the area's MP.

A company called Exmoor Bike Park Ltd is proposing to build an eco-friendly visitor centre located on the west side of Dunster (adjacent to the cricket field).

Exmoor Bike Park Ltd say the new centre will help boost the number of visitors to Dunster High Street, and that the bike park trails will cater for all riding abilities.

But Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, has called on Exmoor National Park officials to ‘stamp on’ the proposals, saying the mountain biking would lead to 'unacceptable levels of damage to a protected wildlife site and ruin the area’s tranquillity'.

Exmoor Bike Park Ltd wants to lay out biking trails on and around Gallox Hill, with trails running through Dunster Deear Park and adjacent estate woodlands.

In a stakeholder information pack about the project, Exmoor Bike Park Ltd say: "Some trails will challenge highly skilled riders, while others provide the opportunity for family-friendly exploration of Exmoor’s outstanding landscape.

"Trails are graded in the same way as ski runs, green being easiest for family use and black being the most challenging for experienced riders.

"In addition to cycling trails, riders and members of the public will be provided with purpose-designed walking paths to explore and enjoy the Park off the bike."

Exmoor Bike Park Ltd are proposing walking trails so visitors can navigate Bats Castle and Gallox Hill with information signs regarding the past use of land.

But Mr Liddell-Grainger said there was already opposition in the village to the proposals, and that the Exmoor National Park Authority 'simply has to refuse consent'.

“The planners have a duty to promote the quiet enjoyment of Exmoor but a mountain bike centre concentrating a large number of riders in a relatively small area will not be quiet – and Dunster people certainly won’t enjoy having it right on their doorstep,” he said.

“There are bound to be unacceptable impacts on walkers and horse riders who already use the area.

"And new buildings in the outstanding landscape which surrounds the village are the very last thing we want to see.

“Of course the national park is also concerned with getting more people to come and enjoy Exmoor, as is the case with all our national parks.

"But a line has to be drawn between promoting the national park and allowing naked commercialisation to wreck it – and this quite clearly crosses that line.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger also took umbrage with Exmoor Bike Park Ltd's promotion that a similar development in Merthyr Tydfil has been an economic success.

He said: “That centre was created in a post-industrial landscape; much of Gallox Hill is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and there are at least two Iron Age hill forts there.

“If you check the aerial images and see how much erosion has already been caused at the Merthyr Tydfil centre and then imagine the same outcome at Dunster it is quite clear the whole project is utterly unacceptable.

“Dunster is one of the UK’s mediaeval jewels, a very special place indeed. It must continue to enjoy the very highest level of protection and I would cordially invite the national park authority to stamp firmly on this proposal if and when a planning application is submitted.”