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Staff devastated by another arson attack at nature reserve

Staff devastated by another arson attack at nature reserve

CONSERVATION staff and volunteers are devastated after another arson attack at a Weymouth nature site.
 
Part of a wooden jetty and viewing platform at RSPB Radipole Lake was destroyed in a blaze which saw smoke and flames rage at the site on Friday night.
 
According to the RSPB, which is a charity and relies on donations, the platform will be cut back to remove the burnt section and will not be rebuilt.
 
It is the latest in a series of vandal attacks at the sensitive bird reserve.
 
Staff also revealed the visitor centre was also targeted by burglars who smashed a window and stole cash during a recent break-in.
 
The Echo reported earlier this year how arsonists struck at the reserve.
 
“Sadly this is the third arson at RSPB Radipole nature reserve in the last two years," said Beth Markey, spokesman for the RSPB.
 
"Our reserve is home to countless species including otters, bank voles, shrews and kingfisher, and we’ve worked hard to turn it into an ideal habitat for wildlife, whilst preserving its status as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).
 
"We’re disappointed on behalf of our visitors as well as the wildlife that we work hard to protect.
 
"We urge the public to call the non-emergency police number on 101 if they know of any information related to this incident.”
 
A mum has spoken of her devastation at the attack. "It's a place me and my four year old son visit regularly to feed the ducks - I don't understand how anyone could have the urge to do such a thing," said Soph Jennings. According to the Weymouth resident, people have been hiding books at the nature reserve and sharing with the hashtag #dorsethiddenbookadventure. "My little boy will be heartbroken," she added.
 
"I'm just hoping our books were found and enjoyed and not burnt."
 
Mayor of Weymouth Cllr Graham Winter expressed his dismay.
 
"I'm really upset that people would destroy something that's such an important community amenity," he said. "It's really sad that some people feel the need to damage something that staff and volunteers have put so much hard work into.
 
"It's a charity - so those responsible have essentially stolen from everyone who has donated, as well as those who give up their time. I'm really sorry that staff will now have to raise more money to rebuild the platform."
 
A spokesman for the RSPB said they are looking for volunteers to help in the visitor centre as well as the conservation team. 
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