A PLANNING inspector has recommended rejection of protected village green status for Radley Lakes, near Abingdon.

Vivian Chapman held a public inquiry in April and June into the application from Save Radley Lakes member Jo Cartmell to protect both Thrupp and Bullfield Lakes from being used as a dump for spent fuel ash from Didcot Power station.

Mrs Cartmell argued that the lakes and land had been used by the public for recreational purposes for at least 20 years and should be granted town or village green status.

The inquiry was held because village green issues are completely different to the planning process.

Planning permission has been given to energy giant npower for the Radley Lakes development.

Mr Chapman's recommendation will be considered and a decision made at next month's meeting of Oxfordshire County Council's planning and regulation committee.

The chairman of Save Radley Lakes, Dr Basil Crowley, said: "We are extremely disappointed at the inspector's recommendation. We thought we had an excellent case and expected that at least we would win protected status for Bullfield Lake.

"It's extremely unlikely now that we will be able to prevent npower from draining the lake and destroying a wonderful wildlife site in the dying days of an old coal-fired power station.

"We say npower does not need Thrupp Lake when it could recycle the ash.

"We will be asking the public who have supported us magnificently over the campaign to speak out and call on npower to do the right thing and step back."

Jo Cartmell, from Abingdon, in whose name the application was made, said: " I am desperately unhappy with the recommendation. It looks as if we have lost this battle, but we will be looking at the report to see if there are any legal challenges we might be able to pursue.

"There is so much hypocrisy about. At a time when we are being urged to save the environment RWE npower uses out-dated processes to dispose of ash when it cold be recycled as other power companies do.

"Now we stand to lose a wonderful site full of wildlife and biodiversity. I am 53 and have walked the land around the lakes for half of my life and as many other local people. It's become part of our lives."