The force is with a Star Wars fan battling his local council over a £12,000 full-size Scout Walker installation. 

Paul Parker, who installed the life-size figure of an AT-ST in his field by the A38, has now received backing from Highways England.

Mr Parker is currently embroiled in a planning permission row with Teignbridge District Council, who gave him 21 days to remove the 14ft attack vehicle replica. 

He contested this with a bid to be granted retrospective planning permission and has won the first battle after road operators said they do not object to the figure - because it is not a distraction to passing motorists.

Mr Parker said he wanted to create a local landmark when it was erected in November, similar to the Willow Man statue beside the M5 in Somerset.

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The impressive model is made of steel and took welder-fabricator Dean Harvey 400 hours to build as a climbing frame for his daughters four years ago.

He gave it to Mr Parker now his daughters are older.

Teignbridge District Council said a decision will be made on the installation by January 28.

Highways England said in planning documents: “We are aware that there have been a number of advertising hoardings placed in the vicinity of the structure over a number of years which can also be considered to constitute a driver distraction. 

“We have therefore reviewed the collision data for a section of the A38 extending 250m either side of the site which provides no evidence of a collision pattern relating to driver distraction. 

“This would therefore suggest that the potential driver distraction from this additional feature is unlikely to lead to an unacceptable safety issue in this case. 

“Whilst we are concerned that the structure has the potential to present a driver distraction, on balance the current collision history would not support an objection that could be sustained on appeal.”

Landscape officer Paul Bryan described the installation as a “publicity stunt” in planning documents on the council’s website.

Mr Bryan added that it has “an adverse effect on the landscape ... further eroding the rural character of the Devon countryside”.

But the application received more than 30 letters in support from local residents and drivers who pass by the figure.

Supporter Mark Lowrey said: “When I first saw this I was greatly amused and impressed that this was on view as I drove along the road towards Ashburton.

“I think it is a great asset in this often pressured busy lifestyle most people lead and a much needed point of interest for the town.

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“Even on my first encounter I would not say I was distracted from driving any more than say 'looking for a road sign'. 

"So stating it is a hazard to motorists is not a valid reason in my opinion as a motorist for the refusal for this permission.”

Sean Wilson wrote: “The Star Wars figure is almost universally recognised and has been generating a lot of excitement among visitors and local residents. It has generated publicity online, in newspapers and on TV. 

“It has been reported on and satirised. It is the subject of a great deal of interest which may be used to generate local economic benefits.” 

A spokesperson for Teignbridge District Council said: “No decision has been made yet but one will be due by January 28.”