Workers going about their daily, lawful business should not be subjected to any form of harassment and intimidation.

If that happens, the perpetrators should expect the full weight of the law to descend upon them.

But the legal armoury being used to stifle protest against RWE npower's plans to dump spent fuel ash from Didcot Power Station in Thrupp Lake, Radley, is excessive.

As far as we are aware, the company is not dealing here with people who are going to plant bombs, send incendiary devices through the post, attack people or desecrate property.

Most of the protesters are ordinary, law-abiding local folk who believe that a huge injustice has been done to a beautiful part of Oxfordshire.

A small minority, some of them outsiders, have broken the law by squatting on the firm's land.

In response, RWE npower appears to have taken a leaf out of Oxford University's book and sought draconian powers similar to those being used to limit protests against the animal research laboratory being built in South Parks Road.

The two campaigns are hardly comparable.

Although many animal rights' protesters are peaceful, some are not.

They have committed a host of crimes over the years and when caught, deserve all the punishment they get.

The local people who make up the majority of the Radley protesters have shown no sign of resorting to such tactics.

The imposition of such harsh restrictions means that they become all-embracing, affecting not only protesters but the media and local people who simply want to enjoy a walk in the countryside.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the planning argument, the company now has permission to dispose of it at Radley.

But it has scored a spectacular public relations own goal by taking such sweeping unilateral action.