TOURISM bosses have thrown their weight behind a campaign to stop a "blot on the landscape" ruining a honeypot attraction.

York Tourism Bureau and Yorkshire Tourist Board today launched a double-barrelled attack on plans to build a hydro-electric power generator at Linton Lock, on the Ouse north-west of York.

More than 15,000 visitors flock to the unspoilt riverside site each year.

Critics claim plans to build the "green" scheme - due to go before Harrogate Borough Council on Tuesday - amount to "rural vandalism" and will hit tourism.

Ian Fuller, 45, runs Linton Lock Leisureways, a caravan park and restaurant on the River Ouse that would overlook any generator

He said: "It would be an absolute blot on the landscape if it is built.

"We're all for green energy, but not at this price. This is rural vandalism."

Yorkshire Tourist Board chief executive David Andrews said: "The popularity of the lock relies on its unspoilt rural setting - an oasis of calm in an attractive riverside setting."

York Tourism Bureau raised "grave concerns" about the blueprint.

Chief executive Gillian Cruddas said: "This has the potential to damage an area of scenic beauty."

Council officials have recommended the plans for approval in the face of calls for a public inquiry from parish councillors.

The plans have been resubmitted by farmers James and Sophie Throup, of Grange Farm, Nun Monkton.

Opponents say a disused hydro-electric plant on the other side of the river should be revamped instead of the Throups' proposal.

However, Mr Fuller's plans to resurrect this site - under Hambleton District Council's remit - are on hold until the Throups' blueprint is dealt with by Harrogate planners.

Sophie Throup, speaking on behalf of applicants JR and K Throup, today said: "Most of the site is below ground level. The only visible buildings are up to ten times smaller than those opposite. If anything, the facility will encourage tourism in the area, as people take an interest in technology sites that will become more of a necessity in the future."

Updated: 09:35 Saturday, October 11, 2003