Stanage Edge. Photo: Darren Copley

Stanage Edge. Photo: Darren Copley

Police are appealing for information after an off-road vehicle damaged a rare habitat near one of the Peak District’s most popular climbing crags.

The incident happened on Sunday on Long Causeway, near Stanage Edge, Hathersage. A 4×4 vehicle caused damage to water vole habitats either side of the green lane. Although traffic is allowed on Long Causeway, police say it is an offence to damage the habitat of the small rodents.

The area affected is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a special area of conservation for water voles.

PC Kevin Lowe, safer-neighbourhood officer for the area, said: “Water voles are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.

“It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly destroy or obstruct their shelter or disturb the water voles.

Damage to Long Causeway caused by the 4x4

Damage to Long Causeway caused by the 4x4

“Prosecutions can be brought by Natural England and fines of up to £5,000 can be imposed by the courts upon conviction.”

PC Lowe is also co-ordinator for Operation Blackbrook, a project to support the issues raised by villagers who live in the Peak District and whose quality of life has been affected by the drivers or riders of motor vehicles or motor cycles who drive or ride off-road in an inappropriate or illegal manner.

The police officer said: “I would appeal to anyone who witnessed the incident or has knowledge of the offenders to come forward and contact me on 0345 123 3333 or ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

The area is one of the most heavily used climbing edges in the Peak District national park.

Operation Blackbrook is supported by the Peak District National Park Authority which provides staff on special project days and also financed leaflets to inform drivers and riders about how to access the park in an appropriate manner.

The PDNPA has also expanded its website to give advice about this issue to both riders and drivers.

Villages also have a quarterly meeting where they can be updated about the project and raise issues. This group has now also co-opted the principal representatives from the Peak District Vehicle User Group and the Buxton Area Land Rover Club, who represent off-road riders and drivers and have lent their support the Blackbrook project.

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