A nature reserve near Preston has been the victim of arsonists after its polytunnel was torched.Advertisement
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service was scrambled to Brockholes Nature Reserve on Friday morning to find the structure, used as a nursery for reed beds, on fire.
The nature reserve said the reed beds, crucial to maintaining the ecosystem at Brockholes, had been growing for five years.
Volunteers have spent countless hours working on preparing the tunnel and have been left in tears by the fire.
Chairman of the Friends of Brockholes John Cribbin said: “This is a huge blow because we have been preparing the tunnel for plants. It means we will have to find funds for a replacement and funds are really hard to come by at the moment.
“We are presently raising money for a new mower for the reserve officer and we have got three quarters from a kind donation, but we are a quarter short. Conservation work can be a costly business, so an attack like this is devastating.”
Lindsay Griffiths, who has been seen her plants and flowers grown there sold to raise money for the reserve, said: “We have been asked to grow £5,000 worth of reeds for the Lunt Meadow nature reserve. We were due to plant the seeds in two weeks. We have also been growing herbs for the restaurant.”
Events and communications manager Sarah Leach said: “Our concern now is that the melted plastic has contaminated the soil – so volunteers will have to dig all that out – lots of hours of labour and lots of wasted compost. This hits the reserve financially. It also meant the fire service had to come out and deal with the fire.
“The polytunnel has been a mutli-purpose building. Our conservation volunteers would eat their lunch in there, sheltered from the weather.”
CCTV footage is being passed to Lancashire Police and Ms Leach said: They appear to have gone to a lot of trouble to set the polytunnel alight, but there is no reason why they have done it. We will be checking our tapes and passing them on to the police.
“While the phrase “mindless vandalism” is over used it is relevant here. If the people who did this realised how many people this would affect and how much work it has created they might think twice about doing it again. It is just selfish.”