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.