Silver Street Nature Reserve meadow scorched in arson attack
Volunteers who dedicate their time to keeping a nature reserve in Midsomer Norton looking its best for visitors have been angered by arsonists who have caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage.
Silver Street Nature Reserve is to be awarded Green Flag status this week for the third year in a row.
But as final preparations were being made to welcome the community to celebrate the woodland and meadow being crowned one of the best green spaces in the country, vandals struck.
Hay bales were set alight and then rolled on to Somervale School playing field and an ecologically important wildflower meadow has been left scorched and barren.
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Grandfather-of-seven Jim Edwards, 72, has been coordinating the conservation work at the wood with the Friends of Silver Street Nature Reserve for the past eight years.
Mr Edwards said: "It was very dangerous and there could have been disastrous consequences if someone had been walking by at the time.
"We work really hard for the benefit of the community but suffer a lot of problems with vandalism.
"Every day we collect a bin liner full of litter including drink cans and bottles, our hawthorn hedges are constantly being pulled out, people bend back small trees and even cut them down for fires and we have a big problem with people just leaving dog mess they have picked up in plastic bags hanging from trees."
The bales had been left for collection by a farmer after Bath and North East Somerset Council spent £600 on cutting the grass in preparation for the flag being awarded on Saturday, when the friends group will also be hosting a guided tour of the woods between 11am and 1pm.
Mr Edwards added: "We want people to come and enjoy the wood and have even created a fire pit in the hope people won't start fires in the dense woodland.
"We need people to get behind us, support us and if possible give us a hand at our weekly Saturday task morning.
"I take inspiration from my grandchildren and the younger generation and do this in the hope they will have a brighter future."
The incident, which took place late Tuesday, August 28, has been reported to Avon and Somerset police.
Anyone with information is asked to call the non-emergency number 101.