2.57 Within the region there is an insufficient supply of youth play space, parks and recreational grounds across all area profiles. Difficulties maintaining natural turf and a shortage of available space has amplified the growth in artificial alternatives. Since the late 1970s when artificial alternatives gained popularity, technologies have advanced and third generation (3G) pitches are being employed with the backing of Sport England and the Football Association among other sporting bodies. Artificial pitches are useful mainly due to their ability to withstand inclement weather and provide significant benefits supporting active lifestyle and well-being by allowing people to play and exercise longer especially in winter.
2.58 3G pitches are constructed using longer pile artificial grass with a rubber crumb infill. These crumb granules are typically styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) originating from shredded waste tyres. Even though the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 place additional duties on those designing artificial pitches to eliminate or reduce hazards and risks during design, there are some concerns regarding impact on people’s health resulting from exposure to contaminated granular material and through the contamination of soil and water. Investigations are ongoing by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to determine whether crumb infill poses a risk to the health of those using third generation sports pitches. Users are advised to follow the safety recommendations made by the ECHA.
2.59 The NPPF states that planning policies and decisions should aim to avoid new and existing developments contributing to land contamination, soil degradation and water pollution. Policy PCS1 embodies the ‘precautionary principle’ toward the healthy functioning of environmental systems.
2.60 Therefore, some amendments are proposed to Policy PCS1 Pollution and nuisance, PCS5 Contamination and LCR6 New and Replacement Sports and Recreational Facilities as below.
Consultation Reference DM 14
Amendments to Policy PCS1: Pollution and Nuisance
Development will only be permitted providing there is:
1) no unacceptable risk from existing or potential sources of pollution or nuisance on the development, or
2) no unacceptable risks of pollution to other existing or proposed land uses arising from the proposal
Consultation Reference DM 15
Amendments to Policy PCS5
Development will only be permitted on land either known to be or strongly suspected of being contaminated, or where development may result in the contamination of land or the release of contaminants from adjoining land, provided:
1. the proposal would not cause significant harm or risk of significant harm to health or the environment or cause pollution of any watercourse, water body or aquifer
2. remediation measures are put in place as appropriate, and
3. any identified potential harm can be suitably mitigated
Consultation Reference DM 16
Amendments to Policy LCR6 New and replacement sports and recreational facilities
The policy is proposed to be amended to introduce a requirement for applicants to produce a management plan for artificial pitch proposals to address pollution issues. The management plan should outline the materials used and should consider potential sources of pollution from the installation phase through to end of life, including disposal. This includes both chemical and solid wastes including micro-plastics. Adequate remediation measures must be reported to ensure any identified potential harm can be suitably mitigated.