The company has deforested and shredded trees around Thrupp lake prior to draining the lake to fill with pulverised fuel ash from its nearby Didcot power station. But now the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has revealed that nPower may face a fine and a condition to restock the lake with trees, and maintain those trees for ten years.
Under a Freedom of Information request CPRE discovered that nPower did not have the necessary felling license to clear the trees around the lake - an activity which the company has described as 'essential tree maintenance'. The Forestry Commission is now considering undertaking a detailed report on nPower's activities on the lake, which could lead to legal action.
CPRE's Oxfordshire Campaign Manager, Andy Boddington, described nPower's actions as 'a very serious matter':
'nPower have felled dozens of mature trees and cleared substantial nesting areas. The Forestry Commission must prosecute if the company has broken the law, otherwise the Commission will be giving the green light to any landowner who thinks that they can clear an environmentally important landscape without a licence,' he said.
Photographs released by CPRE now show that swans have been forced to nest on footpaths after their island nests were destroyed. Locals reported seeing nPower contractors chasing wildfowl away from the nest sites with sticks during the tree felling process. One bird was later found floating in the lake with a broken neck.
'nPower told everyone that they were acting within the law,' said Boddington,'but now it seems that they are a law unto themselves.'
A public inquiry into whether the lake should be declared a community 'town green' begins today at Radley college. One of the campaigners will be blogging for the Ecologist on the proceedings.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist April 2007