HUNGERFORD Rugby Football Club’s floodlight project has been given the go-ahead by planners, despite strong protests from conservationists.
A planning application submitted by the club had triggered objections from residents about “obtrusive lighting”.
But the strongest views were expressed by a planning adviser to the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) group, Rebecca Davies, who warned: “Any change to the site from increased lighting would alter the character and experience of the AONB in this locality and of one the special qualities of the AONB in terms of dark skies and tranquillity.
“The proposed development would cause significant harm to [its] natural beauty.” The club responded by stating: “The new floodlighting proposals are essential to... provide people of all ages an opportunity to participate in physical exercise and, specifically, rugby.
“The club needs to ensure player safety, whether this is training or matches during the dark winter afternoons and nights.”
The proposed floodlight system comprises six, 15m-high steel masts.
A West Berkshire Council planning officer’s report acknowledged the “strong objection” from the AONB group, but concluded: “The design of the proposed floodlighting is in accordance with the levels of intensity recommended for the AONB with other changes made to reduce the impact.The proposal in summary is, on balance, acceptable.”