Campaigners are celebrating following a decision to hold a public inquiry into a proposal to protect Radley Lakes.

Oxfordshire County Council has said it will look into an application in April to grant the lakes, near Abingdon, Town Green Status.

RWE npower has already begun work at the Thrupp Lake site, which it wants to use as a dump for 500,000 tonnes of ash from Didcot Power Station.

If the status is approved, it will secure the whole area for recreational purposes and prevent any development.

Campaigners fighting to save the lake believe the work should be now put on hold.

Dr Basil Crowley, chairman of Save Radley Lakes, said: "Great news. Now npower should cease all work at the lake.

"It's a pity they've already trashed it by cutting down trees and vegetation. But they use their power and economic muscle to do what they want."

Jo Cartmell, in whose name the application for Town Green status has been submitted, said: "I'm delighted that we are to have a public inquiry.

"It's a significant victory along a difficult road to stop RWE npower despoiling a beautiful lake and area."

Contractors working around Thrupp Lake have almost finished their work clearing vegetation and some trees.

RWE npower spokesman Kelly Brown said: "At this stage, we do not believe that a clear case has been made to enable Lake E (Thrupp Lake) to be registered as a Town Green.

"We have always said that we need to develop the area in order to maintain Didcot A's ability to generate.

"Now that we have been granted planning permission, we have to start work ahead of the bird nesting season on land we own.

"If there is a public inquiry, we will have to see if this affects our work. However, we have planning permission and this is a separate legal issue so we will continue with our programme."

Richard Goodlad, the council's assistant solicitor, said: "A public inquiry into the Town Green status will be led by a senior barrister, a QC who specialises in this particular area of law. He or she will recommend acceptance or rejection. The county council's planning committee will make the final decision."