Police are investigating after an award-winning bird hide in a popular national nature reserve was destroyed in a fire that is thought to have been started deliberately.
NatureScot’s Mill Hide on the shore at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve in Kinross-shire was gutted in the blaze, which occurred between 7pm and 8pm on Thursday.
The hide, built in 2011 and situated on the edge of Kinross behind the Todd and Duncan yarn mill, had won awards for its architectural design.
NatureScot said the hide was a much-loved place for locals and visitors alike to enjoy some of the best views of the loch and the large numbers of birds congregating on the water.
Reserve manager Neil Mitchell said: “When I went out to the site this morning I was shocked and saddened to see what has happened to the hide.
“It’s been completely destroyed and what’s worse is we believe the fire was started deliberately.
“The hide is hugely popular and over the years has brought so many people joy, allowing them to experience and connect with nature at the reserve.
“It was a beautiful building that has won several awards, and many visitors will have snapped views from it. Sadly, we’ve now had to fence off the site for public safety.
“While it’s gutting to see it destroyed, the response from the community and the general public has been amazing.
“Given this bird watching site’s popularity and fantastic lochside location, we are determined to replace the hide as soon as possible.
“We would urge anyone with information about the fire to contact Police Scotland.”
Police investigating blaze
Chief Inspector Graham Binnie of Police Scotland said: “Starting fires deliberately is reckless, dangerous and risks lives. In this case, the bird hide has been completely, and unnecessarily, destroyed.
“We are investigating this as a deliberate act and would ask anyone who saw any suspicious behaviour in the area on Thursday evening, or has information to identify those responsible, to report this to us as soon as possible.
“Those with information should contact Police Scotland on 101 and quote incident number 0573 of February 19.”
Loch Leven is Scotland’s most visited national nature reserve, with upward of 250,000 people a year attracted to the site and using the Loch Leven Heritage Trail.