The question of whether it is illegal to remove pebbles from beaches in Cornwall and around the UK has been thrust back into the spotlight.

It comes after Stacey Solomon joked to fans on social media that she could be arrested, after taking pebbles from the beach while on a family holiday in Sidmouth, Devon this month.

The 30-year-old singer-turned-TV presenter shared a post of herself collecting pebbles at the beach for a DIY project while on a break with partner Joe Swash and their son Rex.

However her fans were quick to point out that such an act is illegal in England.

To which the star replied: "Well, that's a bummer. I just spent two hours collecting those bad boys” before promising to return the pebbles.

Only last year, a tourist who had holidayed near Crackington Haven beach in Cornwall was forced to drive hundreds of miles back to the spot in order to return some pebbles he had taken from the beach.

So, is it illegal to remove pebbles from a beach in the UK?

Under the Coastal Protection Act 1949, the removal of any natural material such as sand and pebbles from public beaches in the UK is illegal.

Pebble theft is in fact so prevalent in the area that Cornwall Council, which owns 57 of the county’s beaches, had to put up numerous warning signs explaining the illegal nature of the act for clarification.

Additionally, in 2018, the Metro reported on a group of thieves described by the paper as ‘grain gangs’, who would use JCB diggers to take large quantities of sand from Hemsby beach in Norfolk, in order to sell it on to builders.

Meanwhile over in Devon, council gardeners were forced to microchip public plants after suffering a “severe” amount of thefts in the area.

Why is it illegal?

Bans on seemingly harmless acts can be enforced by local councils, and can see offenders fined up to £1,000 as a penalty.

Yet while it may seem perfectly harmless, removing pebbles and other natural matter from the coast is in fact damaging to the environment.

As suggested by the name of the Act, and as stated in the introduction of the Act, taking natural material from a beach in the UK is illegal, in order to protect Britain's beaches “against erosion and encroachment by the sea”.

Pebbles and other natural matter act as a natural sea defence against coastal erosion, which many experts warn has become even more of an issue due to climate change.