A PUBLIC inquiry into whether the threatened Radley Lakes should be given protected Village Green status heard that the privately-owned land had long been defended from public trespassers.

The application to gain the status of a town or village green for Thrupp and Bullfield Lakes has been brought by campaign group Save Radley Lakes to try to stop energy provider npower filling Thrupp Lake with ash from Didcot Power Station.

Jo Cartmell of Save Radley Lakes must prove the land has been used by the public for recreational purposes 'as of right' for 20 years.

Campaign group Save Radley Lakes called 35 witnesses to argue that people have used the lakes for boating, canoeing, jet-skiing, swimming, bird watching, angling and walking.

But RWE npower say they need the facility because it cannot recycle or sell all of the ash.

Today they called as a witness previous landowner Charles Dockar-Drysdale, who owned the land from 1972 to 1997.

He said he discouraged the public from swimming in his lake "rigorously and actively" with fences.

But he allowed private angling and a jet-ski club for a number of years under his supervision.

Mr Dockar-Drysdale said: "Thrupp Lake was our back garden, we had a ban on all swimming in the lake. I objected to people intruding upon it."

Save Radley Lakes lawyer Philip Petchey argued the public could have ignored fences and bans.

The inquiry is due to finish tomorrow and planning inspector Vivian Chapman QC will send his report to Oxfordshire County Council who will rule on the application.