CAMPAIGNERS have stepped up their fight against plans to build a gas-powered power station in the countryside.

Nearly 400 objections have been lodged against the scheme, which would be built on land next to Locks Farm, in Botley Road, Bishop's Waltham, if approved.

However, the planning permission being sought for the standby facility would only be in place for the next 25 years.

Bishop's Waltham Parish Council is among those objecting. A spokesman wrote to planners, saying: "The application does not meet the criteria for a development in the countryside and would cause harm to the character and landscape of the area.

"The proposal would likely result in unacceptable pollution, resulting in adverse health or quality of life impacts.

"The [parish council planning] committee also registered its disappointment in the lack of full public consultation."

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIOWTT) also objected over concern it would have "adverse effects on nearby ancient woodland and The Moors SSSI (site of special scientific interest)".

A Facebook group has also been set up to fight the plans, with more than 300 people backing it.

However, environmental consultants Enzygo, on behalf of applicant NGFP Ltd, say the proposed facility will "contribute to providing a key source of flexibility to help address some of the challenges associated with the transition to a low-carbon electricity sector".

They added: "The facility will respond to calls from National Grid when energy demand outstrips supply.

"By being able to generate energy immediately and for a short length of time, the development will help the energy sector cope with the peaks in demand for energy they face on a daily basis."

The application has so far received two letters of support from Bishop's Waltham residents.

Leslie Youles, of Tangier Lane, said: "It appears to offer a much needed amenity with minimal negative impact on the surrounding area.

"I hope to be moving to a new housing development relatively close to the proposed facility, so will be one of the nearest neighbours, and can see no reason why it should be refused."

John Hayter, of Bank Street, added: "Climate change is the greatest threat and the logical conclusion... is that every settlement will have to include significant alternative energy generation that this proposal will deliver.

"Coppice Hill residents are concerned about noise and emissions but these are negligible compared to already existing from the adjacent highway."

A decision is expected later this summer.