LEGISLATION to tackle illegal encampments is likely to be approved in the coming weeks.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill passed by the House of Commons yesterday (Monday) contains a section aimed at preventing the encampments.

It comes after years of problems with people moving onto private and council land in Taunton, Glastonbury, Burnham-on-Sea and other towns across Somerset.

Wells MP James Heappy has welcomed the development after the Bill passed its third reading.

Mr Heappy said it follows "years of consultation", with Burnham-on-Sea even applied as a case study in the consultation document.

The key piece of the legislation would see a new law of illegal trespass, which would make illegal encampments a criminal matter rather than a civil one.

Mr Heappey said: “A small group of us started talking about the illegal trespass law three or four years ago, motivated by the constant challenges of illegal encampments in our constituencies.

“I promised to deliver legislative change and I am delighted that the Commons has now voted to support this important law.

"I would like to thank all of the resident groups and local councils for their support on this journey.”

The Police and Crime Bill will now be voted on by the House of Lords in the coming weeks.