A former Cub leader told an inspector yesterday how the threatened Radley Lakes had helped hundreds of children.

Karen Hughes, of Lee Avenue, Abingdon, has been visiting Thrupp Lake and Bullfield Lake for more than 20 years.

Yesterday, Mrs Hughes gave evidence at the inquiry at Radley College, supporting campaign group Save Radley Lakes which is trying to stop RWE npower from dumping spent fuel ash from Didcot Power Station in Thrupp Lake.

Mrs Hughes, who was leader of 11th Abingdon Cubs from 1992 until 2001, said: "I took 24 Cubs to the site to do badge work at least four times a year. Part of their badge work included nature recognition. The boys would have to recognise birds and plant types.

"We would also do activities such as how many things they could fit in a matchbox and map work.

"I stopped being the leader in 2002 and the group could not get a new leader and it folded."

Mrs Hughes was one of 24 witnesses giving evidence to prove that the area had been used extensively for recreation during the past 20 years and should be given town green status.

That would stop RWE npower from using Thrupp Lake as a dump for power station waste.

About 30 more witnesses were due to speak, but the inquiry - which was meant to last four days - has had to be adjourned until June due to the increased number of people wanting to give evidence.

Mrs Hughes continued: "I would walk around the lakes with my dog and children.

"The children learned to recognise coots, moorhens, swans and various types of ducks and geese that swam on the lakes.

"In the summer, there is colour from wild flowers, trees to climb and insects to be inspected.

"I'm not an expert on any, but have recognised orchids which are fairly rare in Britain."

RWE npower, which has planning permission for its dumping, opposes the application, saying it has not been used enough as a recreation area to merit town green status.