CAMPAIGNERS fighting to protect the Oxfordshire countryside have claimed plans for a 130m tall wind turbine on the edge of the city would damage the landscape and dwarf nearby homes.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England Oxfordshire, which aims to promote and protect rural parts of the county, said the plans should be put on hold until more research had been done on the impact of on-shore wind turbines.

Oxford City Council ann-ounced its proposals for a £3m turbine between the Cowley car factory and Horspath earlier this month.

It has earmarked land across the road from Horspath Road athletics track for the turbine, which could generate enough electricity to power 1,200 homes a year.

Last night, CPRE Oxfordshire campaign manager Dr Helena Whall said: “It will affect views from the Green Belt into the city and it will impact on the community. We are mainly concerned with the affect on the landscape because it will visible for miles around. It will be enormous so it will have a dwarfing impact and there will be the noise problem as well.”

Dr Whall said the CPRE supported generating energy from renewable sources, but added: “It would be madness to promote wind-turbines willy-nilly all over the British countryside and we are in real danger of that happening in a desperate rush to seek low-carbon solutions. We must not sacrifice the landscape to save the environment.”

Ms Whall said the location was close to a number of environmentally important sites — including the Oxford Green Belt and two sites of special scientific interest — Shotover Hill and Brasenose Wood.

She added: “We feel the city is rushing ahead when the research hasn’t been done.

“Natural England is currently seeking to produce more informed guidance on the capacity of the countryside to accept on-shore wind-turbines, in terms of biodiversity and landscape quality.”

A planning application for the turbine could be submitted in 2011 once a test mast has proved there would be enough wind to drive a turbine.

Deputy city council leader Ed Turner said: “The CPRE are the sort of people who would uninvent the wheel given half the chance and stand in the way of anything which is new and progressive.

“For those who say they care about the environment some of the positions they adopt are quite extraordinary.”