A devastating arson attack at a nature reserve in St Neots has caused “significant damage to an important wildlife habitat”, district council bosses say.

Firefighters were called to the Pocket Park Nature Reserve on Friday evening.Firefighters were called to the Pocket Park Nature Reserve on Friday evening.

The reedbeds at Pocket Park were deliberately set alight on Friday evening (May 22).

Crews from St Neots, Gamlingay, Huntingdon and Cambridge attended to tackle the blaze.

Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC), who own the site, said they are currently assessing the extent of the damage caused.

They have urged anyone with information to get in touch directly with Cambridgeshire Police.

Firefighters were called to the reserve near Pocket Park on Friday eveningFirefighters were called to the reserve near Pocket Park on Friday evening

An HDC spokesperson said: “A devastating fire destroyed the reedbed causing significant damage to an important wildlife habitat for numerous birds, mammals, amphibians, and insects including water shrew, harvest mouse, colourful damselflies, dragonflies, newts and frogs.

“With no rain forecast for the foreseeable future, and the ground already tinder-dry, wind can spread fire rapidly.

“We continue to assess the damage; however, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue has confirmed the fire was arson.

“It is very important to not leave barbecues unattended nor discard cigarette ends or broken glass.

“Not only is there an impact on wildlife but this type of careless behaviour has devastating impacts on our local environment features that we know people treasure and encourage people to visit our sites.

“We know this because over 90 per cent of people surveyed for our work on developing a new strategy for healthy open spaces said; parks, play areas and open spaces help their mental wellbeing and 64 per cent of people say parks and open spaces are essential to their quality of life.

“Please encourage everyone you know to take care of our valued environment, which is more important than ever right now. “If any member of the public has information surrounding the fire, please contact the police.”

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue confirmed that the fire had started in the reedbeds and spread across the marshland, before crews managed to get it under control.

In a Facebook post on Saturday (May 23), they said: “Sadly, the cause of the fire was deliberate, causing needless damage to the park and its wildlife.”

Anyone with information should get in touch with police via 101 or at https://www.cambs.police.uk/report

You may also want to watch: