A Buchan councillor has hit out at vandals who set fire to a country park cottage which had been due to be converted into a tourist let.
Jim Ingram blasted those behind the early-evening blaze on June 25 which caused considerable damage to the interior and roof of the Forester’s Cottage at Mintlaw’s Aden Country Park.
Police Scotland have confirmed they are treating the incident as suspicious and have appealed for witnesses to come forward.
Commenting on the fire, a disappointment Cllr Ingram said: “This is just sheer wanton vandalism. Sadly there is a group of youngsters that are misbehaving in general in the village at present and this appears to be their handiwork unfortunately.
“The sad thing is that there were plans afoot for this building as we were going to turn it into a holiday home for lease over the summer and I really welcomed that prospect. We will probably have to reassess where we are going with that idea, but I would have welcomed someone staying on the estate.”
The park’s Hareshowe Farm was also recently targeted with several windows being smashed and contents of the historic working farm being damaged.
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson said: “It is very much our intention to bring this historic cottage back into use.
"We are constantly looking for new funding streams to achieve this aim.
“However, the deplorable act of vandalism has made it harder for us to achieve this objective as there is now the additional repair costs to be factored into the restoration.”
Only last year, local councillors agreed to seek funding to cover the £230,000 cost of restoring Forester’s Cottage and giving it a new lease of life as an all-year round holiday let.
Aberdeenshire Council’s Buchan Area Committee and the Aden Working Group agreed that the restoration of Forester’s Cottage was a “key project” for the wider tourist attraction.
They felt that by bringing the cottage back into use, it could generate an income stream for the park as well as restoring part of the built heritage.
Anyone with information relating to the fire should call Police Scotland on 101 quoting reference number 3286 of June 25.