A GIANT water vole was an unusual visitor to Swindon energy company RWE npower's headquarters.

Nearly 30 protesters, including 10 children and one dressed as a giant water vole, arrived at the firm's head offices in Windmill Hill Business Park yesterday.

They were protesting against the company's plans to fill a lake in Radley, Oxfordshire, with ash from its power station in Didcot.

The members of the Save Radley Lakes group made the 30-mile journey from Abingdon to the Swindon offices to present a petition against the plans.

Nine-year-old Olivia Mann started the petition when she heard of npower's plans. She said: "We decided to do this petition because Radley lakes are beautiful and I don't want to see them destroyed."

Olivia, who cycles and walks around the lake, got almost 200 signatures. The protesters chanted Save Radley Lakes outside the offices with a banner showing a kingfisher, one of the birds that visits the lakes.

The group is concerned that npower's plans will destroy the habitat for wildlife and for those using the lakes for swimming and fishing.

Olivia presented the petition to Steve Waygood and Leon Flexman, from npower.

Mr Flexman, head of external affairs, told Olivia: "We will have a look at it. We are very keen to protect the environment and we have plans to restore the area to a nature reserve after the development - although there will no longer be a lake there and we know that Save Radley Lakes perhaps aren't happy with that."