Arsonists who burned a popular hide to the ground at a Lancashire nature reserve have been slammed as “selfish”.
Firefighters tackled the blaze at the Peninsular Hide, at Brockholes off the M6 motorway at Preston, in the early hours of Sunday, but they could not save the £14,000 building.
Staff at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust reserve were assessing the damage today - with just the metal frame still standing - and described the damage as “heartbreaking”.
General Manager Kath Knight said: “It’s very disappointing that this is the way that some members of the local community abuse the site and they are spoiling it for themselves as well as their friends and family. These people are selfish.
“This is a hide for all of the local community as well as the thousands of visitors we get from further
afield. Not only is the hide a facility for birdwatchers it serves as a place where people can rest if they are walking or cycling and is a shelter in the wet weather. Numbers of visitors are growing all the time and this is a great loss to the reserve.”
Kath said that all the hides at Brockholes have been subject to attacks – fires, broken windows, graffiti and other anti-social behaviour.
Kathsaid: “As a nature conservation charity we cannot afford this kind of attack. These hides have been funded by individuals wanting to do their bit for wildlife and now we have to go to them and explain that the hide has been destroyed.”
Police have increased patrols at Brockholes recently and staff are asking volunteers and members of the public to be vigilant and to report any anti-social behaviour to the police.
Brockholes has been open just over a year and has had close to 200,000 visitors to the reserve and Visitor Village. For more details of the reserve and events go to www.brockholes.org or 01772 872000.