Heated debate over cricket club floodlights

May 05 2016
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Heated debate over cricket club floodlights

By Zuzana Pohloudkova

MORE than 100 people attended a meeting on April 20 over the controversial new floodlights at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club’s ground.

The six permanent 45 metre lights had been tested earlier in the month. Residents complained about the brightness, the glare from sunshine, impact on the landscape and issues related to the late matches.

Neighbours oppose the club’s request to play three training sessions a year under the lights.

Permission was granted for the lights to be used up to 15 times a year for competitive cricket matches. They were installed to bring international cricket to Bristol and to provide good quality media coverage.

At the latest they will be switched off at 11pm, but the club says the games are likely to finish significantly earlier than that unless there is a rain delay.

Will Brown, CEO of the Gloucestershire Cricket, assured residents at the meeting that all the possibilities were considered at the planning stage and that the club wants to engage with the community more in the future.

He said: “We wrongly assumed that people would prefer three training sessions within the 15 nights rather than competitive matches that bring all the other issues to the streets here.” Howzat? is a campaign group formed by residents of Bishopston and Ashley Down to challenge and revise the stadium expansion plans of GCCC. They are afraid that changing the conditions may set a precedent for increasing the use of lights.

Alison Orton from Howzat? said:“We want the cricket ground to stay and develop in Bishopston, but in a sustainable way. We want to mitigate the bad impact on the highly populated residential area.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board gives recommendations for light pollution, but no maximum legal limits. The light spill of the floodlights is up to 16 times the standard at some neighbouring properties. Bristol City Council’s Urban Design Group stated that they cause substantial harm to the views of the Ashley Down Conservation Area.

The late night matches cause other issues. Residents have to park very far from their homes on the days of the matches, and they complained that the speakers are very loud and there is antisocial behavior in the streets until late.

Mr Brown said: “We expect higher attendance next season and we are working with other parties to solve the parking issue and antisocial behavior.”

Last month Mayor George Ferguson announced that Bristol is going to be the UK’s European City of Sport in 2017.

One event already confirmed is the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup on the County Ground, one of five venues to host global competition. In 2019 the ground will host the World Cup.

During The Bishopston Society meeting earlier this month Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West, said it was exciting that Bristol would host international women’s cricket and that there was no will, desire or need from the club to extend the days when the lights will be used.

The public meetings with the club will take place twice a year.

For more information about the campaign group visit howzatgccc.wordpress.com or contact them at: howzatgccc@googlemail.com .