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Police appeal after arsonists target west Norfolk beauty spot

PUBLISHED: 11:00 12 May 2015 | UPDATED: 14:27 12 May 2015

Bawsey Pits. Picture: Ian Burt

Bawsey Pits. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant

Police are searching for arsonists who have deliberately caused a number of fires at Bawsey Pits near King's Lynn.

The police helicopter was scrambled to search the surrounding area for those responsible for the incidents.

It is understood that 400 metres of grassland, trees and an electricity poll were damaged by fires which had been started deliberately around the lagoon area on Sunday afternoon, between 12pm and 5.30pm.

Firefighters were also called to a rubbish bin on fire at Brow of the Hill, in Bawsey.

A spokesman for Sibelco, current owners of the site, said: “We are very disappointed to hear that such an incident has taken place in broad daylight.

“We would appeal for anyone with information to contact the relevant authorities so those involved are brought to justice.”

In January, the minerals firm announced a takeover deal with Wisbech-based businessman Kevin Salter, who outlined visions to transform the area in to a country park.

Mr Salter also explained his number first priority would involve stamping out the ongoing issues of antisocial behaviour that has tarnished the site’s reputation in recent years.

Lawyers had been expected to finalise the deal between both parties at the end of March - but talks remain ongoing.

Sibelco’s spokesman added: “We are unable to comment on any detail on the transfer at the moment as talks continue, and until we reach an agreement that satisfies all parties concerned as well as the views expressed in the residents’ survey.

“But we are hopeful for an early as possible completion and looking forward to Bawsey being given a fresh lease of life.”

Sibelco released the survey last year to gauge public opinion on the future of Bawsey Pits, and it attracted responses from over 600 people.

While over 80% revealed that they enjoyed visiting the area, many said more activities such as fishing, swimming, cycling and water sports should be introduced.

These most recent incidents of arson come a month before the inquest of 16-year-old Umar Balogun, who drowned at the lake in July 2013. He was one of two swimmers who died after ignoring ‘no swimming’ signs.

- Anyone with information about the fires should contact King’s Lynn Police Station on 101.

- Did you see what happened at Bawsey Pits? Email louise.hepburn@archant.co.uk

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