Waste fuel ash from Didcot power station will not be dumped in Thrupp Lake at Radley after a three-year campaign to save the beauty spot.

RWE npower, the owner of the power plant, announced yesterday it had struck a deal to use the majority of its ash at the nearby Sutton Courtenay landfill site and no longer needed to use the lake, one of the Radley lakes, near Abingdon.

Members of protest group Save Radley Lakes said Christmas had come early after RWE said it wanted to see the area become a nature reserve.

It marks the end of a 41-month campaign by Save Radley Lakes — costing more than £50,000.

Squatters also took over the site for several weeks before being evicted by bailliffs.

Save Radley Lakes chairman Basil Crowley said: “This is a win, win, win situation; for us, RWE npower and Waste Recycling Group.

“They’re not just not filling the lakes with ash, but they’re going to give it to the community as a nature reserve. It’s definitely Christmas come early.

“The lakes would have been filled if it hadn’t have been for the campaign.

“There were times when we were in despair, because it seemed we were losing all the battles. But there was always hope and we never gave up.”

Talks on how to turn the eight-hectare site into a nature reserve are already under way, according to a spokesman for npower.

It is also considering restoring other parts of the Radley site previously used for ash tipping, including creating mixed meadow, woodland, and wetland areas with habitats for wildlife, and converting a lakeside house into an education and environment centre.

Campaigner Marjorie White, of Cherwell Close, Abingdon, said: “We always hoped we would stop them, but I never thought they would be so generous.

“This campaign has consumed our lives. We were like terriers at their heels.”

Annabel Eyres, 43, of Radley, said: “We’re a local campaign group which has taken on a giant and we’ve won. There’s always a chance of winning – thumbs up to the little people.”

John Rainford, the power station’s manager said: “We’re very pleased that we have found such a significant alternative to ash disposal at Radley, which protects our ability to generate power whenever it’s needed.

“Our vision for the Thrupp Lake area involves a strong partnership with the Radley community.

“We’re keen to agree a scheme that takes into account the wishes of local people, as well as the needs of the area’s ecology.”

Paul Green, of landfill site owner Waste Recycling Group, said: “This is a win-win situation.

“We no longer need to look elsewhere for materials to use at our site, and the power station has a secure outlet for ash.

“We can store the ash we don’t need right away for future use.”