A SCHOOL’S plan to build an artificial sports pitch has been met with opposition from residents and environmental campaigners.

Beaudesert Park School has applied for planning permission for the artificial turf pitch with fencing at its site adjacent to Minchinhampton Common, on an existing grass field.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, told the SNJ that the fencing, which would be 4.5 meters high in some areas, would have a detrimental effect on the beauty of the common.

She said she also believes that once built, the school’s plans to rent out the artificial pitch for third party usage would inevitably lead to a request for floodlighting, even though it is not part of the current application.

“Lighting would be disruptive for the nocturnal animals who live on the commons,” she said.

“Plus, it would not fit in with the parish council’s Dark Skies Policy introduced in 2019.”

Members of The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England’s Stroud group have submitted a formal objection to the application to Stroud District Council.

They wrote: “The site is immediately adjacent to Minchinhampton Common, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSi) and, together with Rodborough common (SAC and SSSi), the most important area of limestone grassland in the county.

“The Common and hence the field form a habitat for a large number of rare and much-treasured plant and animal species.

“The intrusion into this finely-balanced ecosystem of an extensive artificial surface surrounded by fencing would be unforgivably damaging to the natural environment.

“Furthermore, the introduction of fencing would be visually intrusive in this sensitive area. The commons are a place of immense charm and beauty enjoyed as a source of peace, tranquillity and healthy exercise for thousands throughout the Stroud area. The views from many parts of the commons are breathtaking and need to be protected from unsightly development such as this.”

Beaudesert’s headmaster Chris Searson said: “We have carried out a full eco survey to ascertain the best possible way to enhance the biodiversity and eco-connectivity at the site.

“With regards fencing, we’re planning on using fencing that will have the lowest visual impact.

“And with regards lighting, we have no intention to add any. The facilities will only be used during daylight hours.

“We’re fully aware of the parish council’s dark skies policy and we think it’s an incredibly important initiative.”

Residents have been given until January 30 to submit any comments.

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