CLAIMS that filling Thrupp Lake at Radley with spent fuel ash will add to flooding problems were dismissed by RWE npower, owners of Didcot power station.

The pressure group Save Radley Lakes - fighting to prevent Thrupp Lake being used as a dump for ash - said the flood risk from the nearby River Thames would increase.

But npower said previously-filled lakes played a major role in flood management, taking in more than six million gallons of water that would otherwise have contributed to the flooding at Abingdon and further downstream.

The company said that two lakes south of Thrupp and Bullfield Lakes were part of the flood management system for the area.

In the event of flooding, one-way 'flap valves' allowed floodwater to flow into the lagoon, preventing flooding further downriver.

Kelly Brown, of RWE npower, said: "Observations during the current floods have shown these flaps have worked as they were designed to do, and have helped to retain floodwater upstream of Abingdon. The valves operated on Monday, July 23, and continued to take water throughout the following week that would have otherwise contributed to the ongoing flooding threat to Abingdon and the towns further downstream, such as Wallingford."

The company carried out a risk assessment based on the flooding history of the site and the results of detailed modelling.

Mrs Brown said: "This assessment concluded that the plans were unlikely to have any effect on future flooding in the surrounding area. In addition, the planning permission includes plans for a new drainage ditch, which will provide additional storage for floodwater."

The manager of the coal-fired Didcot A power station, John Rainford, said: "Oxfordshire has been severely affected by the recent flooding and we are pleased that in some small way the flood management system at Radley Lakes has helped ease the situation.

"Thrupp Lake is not in the Thames flood plain, as this recent flooding has demonstrated; in fact, the additional measures we intend to put in, including draining ditches, may even help."