A RIDING stables owner who claims a new Rail link connecting Oxford to London would put him out of business, has celebrated the discovery of rare bats along the proposed route.

Wendlebury Gate Stables, in Langford Lane, near Bicester, is adjacent to the Bicester-Oxford railway line.

Operator Chiltern Railways has £130m plans to upgrade the line, and introduce fast trains between Oxford and Bicester and London’s Marylebone station.

Commuters had been hoping for a new service within three years following a public inquiry into the scheme.

But a planning inspector has withheld approval after it was discovered bats use Wolvercot tunnel, North Oxford, for roosts and foraging.

John Offord said the noise of speeding trains would scare horses in the paddock and mean trainers cannot make themselves heard against the din as they call to riding students.

He believes this would result in communication being lost for valuable seconds and could cause fatal accidents.

Mr Offord said if plans continue he could be forced to close the school, which has 40 horses and 400 pupils, for safety reasons.

Mr Offord said: “At the moment there are a small number of slow trains which pass the stables daily. If this was to go ahead, there will be seven trains an hour travelling at speeds up to 100mph.

“At the moment we are very grateful to the bats for holding things up.”

Chiltern Railways had suggested a new light system could be installed and it would be the first of its kind in the UK to give bats a warning about trains rumbling through.

But the inspector was not convinced as there was no evidence that it had been used successfully elsewhere.

A spokesman for Chiltern Railways said it is working with partners to ensure a solution is found for the bats.

Meanwhile staff at the stables decided to dress up as bats for a day to celebrate the hold-up.

Mr Offord said: “It was a bit of light-hearted fun, but the serious part is we risk closure of the stables if Chiltern have their way.

“As far as we are concerned the bats are more than welcome to stay!”