Energy giant RWE npower has denied disturbing wildlife around Thrupp Lake as it prepares to use the site as an ash dump.

Save Radley Lakes supporter Lynda Pasquire was called by two local residents who reported a boat which was claimed to be 'harassing' birds. It has also been claimed the workers have destroyed a swans' nest at the site. The incidents have been reported to the RSPCA.

Mrs Pasquire said: "It is disgraceful that wildlife is being harassed in this way.

"The area is subject to a legal process and npower should respect that instead of trying to bulldoze their way to completion ahead of planning conditions which have yet to be finalised."

Basil Cowley, chairman of Save Radley Lakes, has reported the alleged incidents to the police, including claims that security guards and workmen had harassed swans trying to re-establish an old nest.

Last week, campaigners were celebrating after Oxfordshire County Council decided to hold a public inquiry into whether the area should be granted Town Green Status.

However, npower has refused to stop work on the site, which it plans to use as a tip for ash from Didcot Power Station, pending the hearing in April.

Npower spokesman Kelly Brown said it was not in the company's interests to harass wildlife, and there was an independent ecologist on site.

Mrs Kelly said: "Our contractors found a dead Canada goose on the shoreline of the lake. It was not hit by the boat. Under rules governing Avian flu it was reported to Defra, the Department of Food and Rural Affairs.

"They advised us that it was not suspect and about how we should to dispose of the bird. The RSPCA was called in and their officer had no concerns.

"We have cleared vegetation from the area and are removing it ahead of the nesting season. It is important that we complete out work before nesting. We are not in the business of harassing wildlife or destroying nests. We have found no evidence of active birds nests."