Vandals have caused serious damage to a polytunnel belonging to Transition Town Dorchester.

The plastic from the polytunnel, a structure only put up last spring, was cut off and left draped over the now exposed hoops.

Offender struck at the site on the Community Farm off Middle Farm Way, Poundbury overnight on Wednesday, April 1.

The groups says it will cost around £600 to replace this plastic as well as a huge amount of effort on the part of the community farm volunteers.

A spokesman said: “The growing season is just starting and many of us were growing seedlings at home on window sills to plant on in the polytunnel.

“Last year we had a spectacular crop of tomatoes which continued for weeks.

“It is not possible to grow tomatoes like this outside, particularly in such a windy spot as the community farm.

“The polytunnel was an extremely valuable asset, also used for community gatherings.”

One of the group members who lets out the geese in the morning spotted the damage at 7am.

It is suspected that whoever caused the damage could have been planning to take the plastic away and sell it – there is a demand for plastic to cover existing hoops.

The plastic was carefully cut around the doors and the edges to maximise the amount of plastic available.

The spokesman said: “It was not randomly slashed, so we don’t think it can be put down to ‘mindless vandalism’. We don’t know why the plastic was not taken away – perhaps the people were disturbed, or perhaps they realised how heavy the plastic is and planned to come back to retrieve the plastic at a later date.

“We would warn anyone who is buying second hand plastic to be wary about the provenance of this plastic.

“Three years ago the same thing happened to our old polytunnel, which we had virtually abandoned – it was on the old community farm site, and one night the plastic was carefully cut off and removed, in much the same way as happened this time.”