SQUATTERS camped in a house next to a lake, which is at the centre of an environmental storm, have been ordered to leave.

A judge at Oxford Crown Court yesterday granted landlords RWE npower an order to evict the campaigners.

But the group has vowed to fight on in a bid to block the energy firm's plans to dump fly ash from Didcot power station in Thrupp Lake, Radley.

About 17 protesters, including families with young children, have been squatting in the house for a month.

They believe RWE npower's plan could badly affect rare species they have spotted at the lake, including otters and kingfishers.

Liz England, acting on behalf of squatter Christopher Ward and other unnamed protesters, applied for the possession order to be delayed because there were six children under the age of seven staying at the property.

Miss England argued the three families needed time, but Judge Charles Harris declined the application and said the court had no jurisdiction to impose a time-frame on the trespassers.

He said: "I am afraid there is nothing to be done here accept to make an order for the possession of the property in question forthwith."

He also ordered that the squatters should pay £500 costs.

Following the hearing Mr Ward said: "We are a group of people who have decided we have to do something.

"It is not just hardened protesters.

"There are people from all walks of life. Some are veterans from the Newbury Bypass protest, but there are others, including a Baptist minister.

"There are six children under the age of seven, but it is not people who are bringing their kids into a dangerous situation. They realise they needed this place to stay for all our futures."

Fellow protester Malcolm Carroll said: "This decision is no surprise. We don't dispute that npower owns the house and the land. What we do dispute is that the company owns the nature reserve.

"Some parts of the campaign I expect to run for years, rather than months.

"What npower is proposing to do would be unthinkable in Germany. It does not need to happen here."

Leon Flaxman, npower spokesman, said: "We are pleased that the judge has granted an order that means the occupants no longer have any legal right to remain.

"We hope they will leave peacefully and quickly so that we can get on with the job of restoring electricity generation and ultimately get on with creating a nature reserve that we hope local people will be involved in.

"They said there were six young families in there, but we are not going to do anything that is unreasonable or compromises health and safety."

Mr Flaxman would not say when bailiffs would move in to remove protesters, but it is expected to be in the next few days.