A WILDLIFE haven spot in Oxfordshire is in the spotlight as a 'masterplan' for its future is finally unveiled.

The long-term vision for the popular Radley Lakes – the 326-acre area of former gravel quarries near Abingdon – was announced yesterday by Radley Lakes Trust charity.

The masterplan is focussed on protecting wildlife and providing valuable green space for local people, and it proposes new pedestrian and cycling routes from the nearby residential areas and safer parking for cars and bikes.

Part of the area – Thrupp Lake – is already open to the public, and it has become increasingly popular with visitors in recent years, especially during lockdown.

ALSO READ: Generous George Michael revealed as mystery donor who gave cash to save beauty spot

But a decade ago, the future of the area was not so bright-looking.

Between 2005 and 2008, the ‘Save Radley Lakes’ group led a high-profile campaign against plans by RWE nPower, the owners of Didcot Power Station, to fill Thrupp Lake with ash from the power station.

In 2008, RWE abandoned its plans, and appointed the Earth Trust, an Oxfordshirebased environmental charity, to manage Thrupp Lake for nature conservation and public access.

Now, the trust revealed it is having discussions with landowners about permissive paths and controlled access to other parts of the wider Radley Lakes area.

Volunteer group for Earth Trust at work caring for Radley Lakes Photo: Damian Halliwell

Volunteer group for Earth Trust at work caring for Radley Lakes Photo: Damian Halliwell

To prevent visitors from disturbing important wildlife habitats, the masterplan also divides the area into different zones, with no public access to sensitive areas.

Welcoming the masterplan, Lynda Crowley, chair of the council, said: "As a former campaigner of Save Radley Lakes, I am delighted that a charitable trust has been formed to take on the delivery of the Radley Lakes Masterplan.

"The council has endeavoured to bring about a solution to this area for many years.

ALSO READ: Oxfordshire left without a ruling majority party in county elections

"We appreciate the hard work of those involved and looks forward to the successful implementation."

The plan was commissioned in 2019 from Cranley Environmental Limited.

A consultation held in September showed very strong public support for the proposals – more than 95 per cent – and the plan was later endorsed by Radley Parish Council, Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council and the trust.

The main funding for carrying out the projects proposed in the masterplan will come out of Community Infrastructure Levy receipts held by the council.

Trust chairman Andrew Ashton commented: "Radley Lakes is such a special area and a valued oasis for visitors.

"The masterplan is the culmination of considerable work by many who are expert and passionate about this area and paints a bold but realistic vision as a reference against which to plan ahead, to inform how change happens, and to safeguard and deliver an outstanding environment for many decades to come."