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Barn alight in Neats Court Farm, Queenborough, in possible arson two weeks after blaze at Wallend Farm, Lower Road, Minster

By Lewis Dyson

A barn fire in Sheppey this morning is believed to have been started by arsonists.

Around 1,000 tonnes of baled hay was alight at Neats Court Farm in Queenborough Road, Queenborough, between Queenborough Corner and Cowstead Corner roundabouts.

Firefighters were called at 1.33am and two crews, one from Sheppey and one from Sittingbourne, were sent along with one fire officer.

A barn alight at Neats Court Farm on Sunday, August 17
A barn alight at Neats Court Farm on Sunday, August 17

They worked to prevent the blaze spreading while the property owners moved farm equipment and other gear away from the scene.

A plan to allow the hay to burn itself out was agreed and the site is now back in the care of the farm.

Firefighters handed the incident over to police as it is thought the cause was suspicious.

The owner Will Lawrence - who estimates the value of the damage will be between £45,000 and £50,000 - believes more should be to be done to prevent such incidents.

He said: “All I want to know is what the police are going to do to stop this from happening.

“If this were a business in Sheerness the police would be treating this a lot more seriously.

"I was just waiting for that barn to be set alight. It is a sitting duck if someone is out there.

“There is a lot of money involved and it is going to affect my business - because that is my main business, storing hay - and it is going to affect my insurance.”

The barn had only been up for a year and was built as a replacement to one across the road, which was destroyed in December 2012 in a suspected arson attack, causing damage in the region of £45,000.

"I was just waiting for that barn to be set alight. It is a sitting duck if someone is out there..." - The barn's owner Will Lawrence

It also comes just over two weeks after a blaze tore through a barn at Wallend Farm in Lower Road, Minster, on August 1, causing about £450,000 worth of damage in an arson attack.

Det Sgt Cara Ferguson, from the North Kent reactive crime team, said: "We are aware that there have been a number of similar reports in recent weeks, including another arson at Lower Road on August 1.

"We are still following all reasonable lines of inquiry into these incidents and are not ruling out the possibility that these reports are linked."

A spokesman for Kent Police said specialist officers work with the Fire Brigade to detect and prevent crime.

It has a team of rural special constables, many of whom are farmers and land agents themselves and a new Rural Crime Task Force is being launched later this year to target offenders and listen to residents' concerns.

Anyone with any information can call police on 101 quoting references XY/29302/14 and XY/29294/14.

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