Objection to football pitch plans in Weeting

Fears have been raised about a village’s future after objections were lodged to new football pitches.

Weeting Parish Council submitted plans for a sports ground on vacant agricultural land on the edge of the village. Objections have come from the RSPB and Natural England, saying change of use would affect stone curlew nesting in a special protection area (SPA) surrounded by a 1,500m buffer zone.

A letter to Breckland Council from Natural England said: “We understand there is likely to be use of the sports pitches during the period stone curlew are present in the area, ie the spring and summer months. Factors such as floodlighting, noise etc may have a disturbing effect on stone curlew.”

An RSPB letter said it had not been shown “that the application would not adversely affect the integrity of the Breckland SPA”.

Parish council chairman Mike Nairn said refusal of the application could cause problems.

“It would put the whole community in a bind in as much as any development in any shape or form in the village has been stalled totally and completely by the whims of a migratory bird which lives here for three to four months of the year.

“We’re not putting a building there. It will be a football field which will be a large open area and so to turn around and say 22 men running around on a field on a Sunday morning will affect the stone curlew is a bit ridiculous.”

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If given the go-ahead, Weeting Football Club, which now includes adult Saturday and adult Sunday teams, under 12s and under 10s teams, would get three new pitches.

Club secretary Joe Green said: “There are no alternative sites.”

A decision is due from Breckland planning officials by September 9.