PRO-HUNTING campaigners have sawn through the leg of an electricity pylon just outside Carlisle.
Extremist activist group the Real Countryside Alliance is believed to have caused the damage to the pylon near Grinsdale, north west of Carlisle.
News of the attack comes on the day MPs are expected to back a ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales.
Up to 10,000 people, including hundreds of Cumbrians, were expected to attend a rally on Parliament today, protesting against the legislation.
A small notice board was also found fixed to wooden posts near the vandalised pylon warning that “next time” activists would bring the pylon down.
The sign, measuring 2ft by 3ft, read: “John Peel is back. Next time it will come down. Blair, you have been warned.”
Cumbria police were alerted to the attack yesterday but believe it may have been carried out some days ago.
Police officers and United Utilities workers visited the site at around 4pm. and found one leg had been partly sawn through.
A police spokesman said: “The reckless nature of this act cannot be overstated and those responsible put their own lives at risk and posed potential danger to others.”
Police said they were keeping an open mind as to who was responsible. for the act of criminal damage, which is believed to have been carried out with some kind of saw.
The pylon supports 132kv overhead power lines which supply the western coastal area of Cumbria.
A spokeswoman for United Utilities said there was no immediate threat to power supplies in the area.
“United Utilities is liaising closely with the police to assist with their enquiries,” she said.
“Meanwhile, our engineers are ensuring the pylon doesn’t pose any risk to public safety.”
A ban on hunting with dogs could be passed by MPs today, after Commons leader Peter Hain announced last week the Bill would pass through its Commons stages in one day and go to the Lords on Thursday.
Ministers have indicated they will turn to the little-used Parliament Act to push a ban through if peers oppose it, but it still may not become law until 2006.
Paul Timpson, spokesman for hunt saboteurs in the north west, said they would continue to oppose the sport until a ban was in place.
“We will still be going out saving foxes’ lives during this two-year period,” he said. “It doesn’t make any difference to us.”
“We’ve had promises going back over many years promising the end of hunting so hopefully the end is in sight.”
Anyone with any information about the attack on the pylon is asked to contact Cumbria police on 01768 891999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
The ‘Real Countryside Alliance’ launched in May 2002 by unveiling a giant poster in London of a freed terrorist beside a jailed hunt member.
The anonymous breakaway group was set up by members of the Countryside Alliance who believed its leaders had been too soft with the Government.
They promised “aggressive disruption” in which the law could be broken – and were immediately condemned by the actual Countryside Alliance.
In the past two years the Real Countryside Alliance are believed to have been responsible for criminal damage across the countryside.
In August 2002 the campaigners defaced two of England’s most well-known monuments – the white horses on land in North Yorkshire and Oxfordshire – by painting on huntsmen and dogs.
Another of their stunts involved leaving a dead fox hanging below a pro-hunting sign in Cheshire.
Since late 2002 the group had kept a lower profile, but now seems to have been sparked back into action by the new debate a ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales.