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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Committee to write to Sport England over 3G pitch ‘concerns’

An influential group of councillors has expressed concerns over the materials used in artificial sports pitches being built across Leeds.

Leeds City Council’s climate emergency advisory committee (CEAC) will make contact with Sport England over the rubber crumb used in 3G surfaces.

Campaigners argue the plastic pitches, which have sprung up across the UK over the last 15 years as an alternative to grass pitches, are toxic for wildlife and the environment.

They claim the materials seep into rivers, can be fatal for animals, increase the risk of flooding and pose numerous health risks to humans.

Sport England insists it takes concerns “very seriously” but that the rubber crumb is safe, citing numerous independent studies on the issue.

Leeds’ planning committees have approved two major 3G pitches in recent months: one on the site of the former South Leeds Golf Course, and the other in east Leeds off Thorpe Park Approach, despite many objections to both.

Councillor Katie Dye

However, speaking on Monday, Labour councillor and CEAC chair Katie Dye said the rubber crumb was “something we should be concerned about”.

That was in response to a plea from Plastic Free Fields Leeds, which was read aloud on its behalf at an online CEAC meeting.

In their plea, the group said: “Not only are plastic pitches unsustainable, the council is choosing inappropriate, sensitive sites which are already designated for wildlife, greenbelt and parkland.

“We already use these sites for nature-watching close to home and for community wellbeing.

“These sites will never recover because of the toxicity of the materials.

“There are alternatives to plastic pitches, such as improved grass ones and alternative brownfield sites.”

They added: “The rubber crumb particles are eaten by wildlife, mistaking the crumbs for food, and players can also accidentally ingest the particles.”

In response to the statement, Councillor Dye said: “I have to say I understand the concerns, particularly about the rubber crumb infill.

“It’s something I think as a committee we should be concerned about.”

Cllr Dye then indicated the committee would write to Sport England about its concerns over the matter.

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