A NEW wetlands centre will be created at an Oxfordshire lake which campaigners fought to save from being filled with waste ash.

The Earth Trust, which manages the Radley Lakes site, has been given planning permission for the new £750,000 centre at Thrupp Lake.

Plans for the eco-friendly building with views over the lake include a café, toilets, a communal space, an education area and 25 parking spaces.

A fundraising drive will now be launched but no date has been given for construction work to begin.

In 2008, following a three-year campaign called Save Radley Lakes, RWE npower, which runs Didcot power station, agreed to abandon the plan to dump waste fuel ash.

Peter Harbour, 73, of South Avenue, Abingdon, a former scientist at Culham science centre, and a member of Friends of Radley Lakes, said: “The decision to build this new centre vindicates our campaign which was supported by everyone in the Abingdon area. All credit to RWE npower for deciding to do the right thing.”

Roger Thomas, chairman of Friends of Radley Lakes, who also lives in Abingdon, added: “The construction of the wetlands centre will help people to enjoy this beautiful area in new ways and to learn more about its amazing wildlife.”

The wetlands centre will replace a dilapidated house that has stood on the site since the 1970s.

Jayne Manley, chief executive of the Earth Trust, based in Little Wittenham near Didcot, said: “Apart from providing much-needed facilities at this popular site, the wetland centre will allow visitors to learn about the rich habitat that is on their doorstep.

“There will be a particular focus on our use of water, and informing the community about just how vital a resource this is and what we can do to use it carefully.”

Thrupp Lake is a former gravel quarry owned by RWE npower and at the moment there are bird hides and a circular walk around the lake.

The new centre will use recycled or natural materials wherever possible, as well as solar-powered energy collection, water recycling and eco-friendly toilets.

With the support of volunteers and the Friends of Radley Lakes, the Earth Trust manages Thrupp Lake on behalf of RWE npower.

Phil Noake, manager of Didcot power station, which shut down in March, said: “This is a fantastic result and will be both a valuable community resource and help support local ecology and wildlife.

“Didcot power station has been a supporter of the work of the Earth Trust for a number of years.”

The trust will need to raise the funds for the wetland centre.

Earth Trust spokesman Jane Cabutti said planning permission was granted in February by Vale of White Horse District Council on condition that safety improvements are made to the lake’s access road.

She said these could include passing places for vehicles, and a marked path for cyclists and pedestrians.

Ms Cabutti added: “We will try to identify funding streams before we launch our fundraising campaign. We could launch the campaign later this year or early next year.”