Wind wars at Marshland

ARSONISTS may have fire-bombed outbuildings at the home of a leading anti-windfarm campaigner in Marshland St James on Saturday night.

The 30,000 to 50,000 attack could be the latest in a series of incidents linked to controversial plans to build 19 wind turbines in the village.

The owner of the torched timber buildings, West Norfolk councillor David Markinson, heard about the blaze at about 8.30pm while he was at a fundraising auction in the village in aid of Fenland Landscape Against Turbines.

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He rushed to his home in Rands Drove to find flames raging through three stables and a tackroom about 30 yards from his house, which was unoccupied at the time.

Yesterday Cllr Markinson told the Lynn News: "The buildings were all destroyed, razed to the ground, and so was everything inside."

He said the fire was started deliberately, probably with petrol used as an accelerant or "bomb."

Cllr Markinson (50), hit out: "It's not just an attack on me. It's an attack on the borough council which I represent and an attack on local government."

Fortunately, eight ducks housed inside the buildings at night to protect them from foxes managed to escape alive, although distressed by their ordeal.

Initially it was feared the ducks had perished in the blaze.

Cllr Markinson said: "My wife, Sally, was in floods of tears because we thought they had been roasted."

He said it was the second attack on his property by arsonists.

Last November, while he was chairing a meeting in the village hall about the parish plan, a bonfire was set on fire at his home.

Cllr Markinson said the bonfire had been prepared for a few local friends and was an annual event.

"I was given to understand that was some kind of warning," said Cllr Markinson.

Police were informed and subsequently kept in touch and monitored the situation, he went on.

Fire crews from Outwell, Downham and Wisbech were called to the scene of Saturday's fire at 8.22pm and arrived to find the wooden buildings well ablaze.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus fought the flames with hosereel jets, main jets and water from a nearby hydrant.

'EVERYTHING LOST'

A thermal imaging camera was used to ensure no hot spots remained after the fire was reported to be out at 9.15pm.

The last firefighters stayed at the scene until nearly 11pm, damping down and clearing up.

The premises were used for storage and Cllr Markinson said he faces having to replace many items of garden equipment, furniture and tools. "Everything is totally lost," he said.

He said he was certain those responsible planned the attack and waited until they knew he was at the village hall.

A fire service spokesman said the blaze was believed to have been started deliberately. Norfolk Police said arson was suspected and investigations were on-going.

In a separate incident at about 9.45am yesterday, police said a man was arrested in Marshland St James on suspicion of common assault and affray and taken in for questioning.