A BIRD'S nest will delay RWE npower's controversial plans for draining Thrupp Lake at Radley.

The old gravel pit is at the centre of a row about its being used as a dump for spent fuel ash from Didcot power station.

The company said it would postpone some construction works at Thrupp Lake because of evidence of a coot's nest near the edge of the lake.

Work may be held up until "late summer", according to the firm.

Independent ecologists working on behalf of the company found the nest site and work around it was suspended.

The delay was welcomed by Save Radley Lakes campaigners, who are calling for a halt to all works.

But RWE npower insisted it was vital that the lake is used to ensure continuous electricity generation.

Ecologist Charlie Gibson said: "Coots are not rare, but it is extremely important that birds are not disturbed once they have started nesting.

"RWE npower is committed to protecting local wildlife and, following our advice, has suspended work that would affect birds until later in the year."

The company was granted planning permission in January and said it would continue with preparations for the creation of an ash lagoon at Thrupp Lake.

The works, however, will be limited to protect birds nesting in the area.

Save Radley Lakes campaigner Marjorie White said: "This is really good news. For once RWE npower is doing the right thing after so much bad publicity.

"The discovery of the nest will delay work at the lake until later in the year, but it is only a delay. We and thousands of other people want to see the whole project stopped to protect this beautiful wildlife area from destruction."

John Rainford, the manager of the coal-fired Didcot A power station, said: "We have always said that we will do the right thing ecologically in this area; that is why we have an independent ecologist supervising all operations on Thrupp lake.

"It is disappointing that we are not able to complete dewatering ahead of winter generation, and we will have to look at how this will affect the power station's operations."

Company spokesman Kelly Brown said: "We have had to delay our work at the lake following the discovery of the active bird's nest.

"It is important to do the right thing. The discovery of the nest clearly pushes back our construction works, possibly until the late summer."