CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed a new wildlife organisation which will transform a former gravel pit into a nature reserve following a three-year battle to save it.

In December, Didcot Power Station owner RWE npower announced it no longer planned to dump waste fuel ash at Thrupp Lake — part of Radley Lakes — after it struck a deal to get rid of the majority of its spent ash at its engineering works at Sutton Courtenay landfill site.

Protest group Save Radley Lakes, which spent a costly 41 months campaigning to save the 25-acre site, wanted to see the space kept as a lake, natural habitat and green space for the community.

This week, npower revealed it had picked the Northmoor Trust, which runs Wittenham Clumps nature reserve, to transform the site into a wildlife haven.

Marjorie White, of Save Radley Lakes campaign group, said: “The enormous support which the Save Radley Lakes group enjoyed when the lakes were under threat shows just how much the people of Abingdon and Radley value this area and its wildlife.

“Now that Thrupp Lake has a bright future, we want to direct our energies and enthusiasm towards working with the Northmoor Trust to give this new venture the success which it so obviously deserves.”

Northmoor Trust chief executive Harry Barton said: “Radley Lakes is already a wonderful place for people and wildlife and I believe there is potential to turn it into a really outstanding wetland centre.

“I’m hugely impressed by the work npower and the local community have put into securing its future.”

John Rainford, Didcot Power Station’s manager, said: “This is a significant step forward as we now have wildlife experts on board who can draw up detailed plans that can be put in front of people for their views.”

Jenny Standen, chairman of Radley Parish Council, said: “Radley Parish Council is delighted that this attractive and ecologically valuable area will be preserved for the wildlife and the community.”

Preparation work at the site will begin later this month. A three feet-tall post and rail fence will be constructed to mark the boundary. It will not affect public access through existing routes.

A fence which was built to prevent newts returning to the lake, as part of preparations for filling it with ash, will be taken down so they can once again populate the water’s edge.