POLICE are investigating claims that protected water voles have all but been eradicated from Lindow Moss.

Wilmslow police officers Sgt Angie Coppock and PC Lesley Long met with Richard Gardner of Cheshire Wildlife Trust and water vole expert Derek Gow.

It followed Mr Gow's visit last autumn when he said he had "never seen a site so comprehensively trashed".

According to Tony Evans, the secretary of the Saltersley Common Preservation Society, the meeting was called after a statement was made by Cheshire East Council to the Guardian in December.

The statement said "there was no evidence there had been a breach of the water vole protection scheme" at the moss.

Mr Evans said: "The meeting was called in view of the statement to the Wilmslow Guardian by CEC that claimed the water vole protection scheme was in place.

"In 2010, water vole expert Derek Gow proved it wasn't and Croghan Peat's then ecologist also agreed.

"In 2013 the Local Government Ombudsman said the maladministration on site should not continue, but since then the situation got much worse."

Mr Evans added: "Mr Gow will be reporting on the latest visit to the police and then the police will seek to interview Croghan Peat and its ecologist Terraqueous, for their views.

"Should we be proved correct then it is possible a prosecution could follow."

Sgt Coppock said: "The police are currently investigating an alleged breach."

A water vole survey back in 2003 said existing ditches must not be disturbed as they provided a habitat for the animals. But in May 2005, Croghan Peat was fined £700 and ordered to pay Cheshire county council’s £5,175 costs after admitting digging without a valid protection scheme.