Foot­ball club wins lights bat­tle de­spite bat fears

Coun­cil­lor calls ex­ten­sion ‘huge in­con­ve­nience’ for res­i­dents

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - By Guy Bell gbell@thek­m­group.co.uk @gbel­lKM

A vil­lage foot­ball club’s 18-month fight to be able to use its flood­lights for longer has been given the go-ahead – de­spite nearly be­ing thwarted by a colony of bats.

Play­ers at Bearsted FC would have been ex­pected to be plunged into dark­ness af­ter 9.30pm on week­days – some­thing that could pose a prob­lem in the event of ex­tra time in mid-week cup games.

The club ap­plied to Maid­stone Bor­ough Coun­cil to have flood­light­ing ex­tended for a fur­ther hour. But the area around the ground, in Honey Lane, is home to five breeds of bat, and there were con­cerns the move would af­fect their breed­ing habits.

Last Thurs­day, dur­ing a plan­ning com­mit­tee meet­ing, coun­cil­lors heard the re­sults of a Kent County Coun­cil sur­vey that sug­gests there would be no neg­a­tive im­pact on the an­i­mals.

Ju­lian Scan­nell, trustee of Bearsted Foot­ball Club, said: “The cur­rent con­di­tions of use of the flood­lights pre­vent the club from com­ply­ing with league re­quire­ments.

“We com­mis­sioned a batassess­ment re­port and the con­clu­sions say the ex­ten­sion of use of flood­lights won’t have a sig- nif­i­cant im­pact on breed­ing bats.

“We had one evening fix­ture on Novem­ber 15, and there are no fur­ther mid­week fix­tures this sea­son.”

Bearsted Foot­ball Club played its first FA Cup tie last year in a 2-1 loss to East­bourne, but feared their time would run out had the match re­quired a fur­ther 30 min- utes to be played.

An ap­pli­ca­tion was submitted in Au­gust 2016, and an amend­ment was made on Thurs­day to grant a time ex­ten­sion for just four cup games.

That has now been given the green light.

But Otham Coun­cil­lor Kevin Hip­kins felt the ex­cess light spilling into neigh­bour­ing homes would be a huge in­con­ve­nience.

He said: “The par­ish coun­cil ob­jects to this pro­posal be­cause turn­ing off the flood­lights at 10.30pm on Tues­day, Wed­nes­days and Thurs­days we con­sider to be too late.

“There will be light shin­ing in lo­cal peo­ple’s homes with as­so­ci­ated late-night spec­ta­tor noise and traf­fic move­ment.”

Bearsted is not the first foot­ball club to have its plans thrown into doubt by wildlife.

In 2006, Maid­stone United’s new ground at What­man Way was de­layed af­ter crested newts were sus­pected to have made their homes there.

It turned out to be slow worms that de­layed works.

Pic­ture: Bob Kitchin FM4063019

Chair­man Dun­can An­drews will be pleased about the de­ci­sion to al­low his club’s flood­lights to be used for longer and later in spite of con­cerns for lo­cal bats

Pic­ture: David Pipe

Jockey Guy Dis­ney on Rath­lin Rose

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