Berfield claimed nightingales are not given special protection under law but the council said the colony was ‘significant in national terms’ and its loss would be unacceptable.Berfield said: “We estimate the total loss to the community to be in the region of £60m. We are now considering our next steps.” An estate of luxury ‘floating’ homes designed to alleviate flooding has been refused planning permission over fears it will wipe out nightingales. The little brown birds were once common across the UK but they’re now clinging on in just a few isolated pockets of woodland, mainly in the Thames Valley, Kent and East Anglia, and their numbers are dwindling fast.The scheme for an estate of expensive homes perched high on stilts above the water on a lake at Theale, near Reading, one of the birds’ last strongholds, would help drive them to extinction in Britain, nature lovers protested. An artist’s impression of the homesCredit: Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. They said noise from the homes would drown out the birds’ song and the disturbance would make them flee.Now developers Berfeld Ltd have been refused planning permission by West Berkshire Council to build 24 Can-Float homes, along with 201 conventional houses, along the north and western edge of Theale Lake.Can-Floats are designed to rise and fall with water levels during flooding and Berfeld said they are an innovative way to increase housing stock in areas usually unsuitable for human habitation.The plans were met with 328 objections, largely over the impact on local wildlife, especially the nightingales, which arrive from their winter migration to Africa to build nests beside the lake in April.
IRELAND IS SET to lose one of its 12 MEPs when the next European elections are held in June 2014.The cut follows the approval by a European Parliament committee of a draft report which reallocates the number of MEPs to make space for Croatia when it joins the union this July.The recommendation by Europe’s Constitutional Affairs committee will see seats scraped from a number of other countries – predominantly larger ones – in order to make room for the 11 seats that Croatia will receive as a result of its population.After the rearrangement, Ireland (population 4.6 million) will be alongside Croatia (4.3 million) and Lithuania (2.9 million) in the number of MEPs it holds.The new arrangements also account for shifts in populations in other countries, and will see Spain gain four MEPs – from 50 to 54 – while France and Sweden will both get two more, to 74 and 19 respectively.Committee approval means the new system for seat assignments – which brings the membership up to 751, its legal limit under the Lisbon Treaty – is almost guaranteed to be approved by the parliament as a whole next month.The proposal will then be sent to the European Council – the body made up of the heads of government of all 27 member states – for final approval.Some difficulties for IrelandThe rearrangement will mean some difficulty for the Irish government, however, as last year’s Constituency Commission assumed Ireland would keep 12 MEPs when it proposed to maintain the status quo for the 2014 elections.New legislation will need to be brought through the Oireachtas this year to redesign the constituencies that currently exist – and possibly lead to another reform of the European constituencies.Ireland’s 12 MEPs are currently split equally between four constituencies: Dublin (which incorporates the four Dublin council areas), South (all of Munster except Clare), East (all of Leinster excluding Dublin, Westmeath and Longford) and North-West (the remainder of the country).The cut to 11 will mean the constituencies will have to be redrawn – and because Irish law requires the seats to return either 3, 4 or 5 members, the most likely prospect is a single constituency for Dublin (or the greater Dublin area) with the remainder of the country split on a north-south basis.