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Environment Minister reviewing risks of 3G pitches

Environment Minister reviewing risks of 3G pitches

Friday 02 December 2022

Environment Minister reviewing risks of 3G pitches

Friday 02 December 2022


The Government is investigating the potential environmental and health risks associated with 3G pitches as more of the artificial sports grounds crop up around the island.

It comes after several islanders raised concerns surrounding the microplastics involved in the production process, risks of flooding, harm to biodiversity and difficulty in recycling that artificial pitches bring.

Real grass pitches absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen and provide a home for wildlife, particularly insects.

This year the use of artificial grass was banned at the Chelsea Flower Show due to its negative effects.

Environment Minister Deputy Jonathan Renouf said: ‘I have received several messages concerning the increase in 3G sports pitches across our Island, questioning their environmental and health impacts.

microplastics.jpg

Pictured: The fibre loss of microplastics is just one of the environmental concerns around 3G pitches.

"To assess this in more detail, I asked officers from Natural Environment to brief me on their environmental impact.

"This review highlighted that we have an incomplete knowledge. There are currently many different pitches in Jersey that are constructed using different techniques.

"I am particularly interested in the infill used. I have asked officers to sample the drainage water from existing pitches to ensure that the infill is remaining on the pitch.
"We must also protect the health of users of these pitches, and I have asked public health officers to prepare guidance. However, I should emphasise that I have seen no evidence to suggest that there is a public health hazard from the pitches in use today."

Jonathan Renouf.jpg

Pictured: Environment Minister Deputy Jonathan Renouf.

But, the Minister added: "Artificial pitches have some very significant benefits.

"They can be used much more frequently than conventional pitches and this keeps our population active, helping with the government’s health and wellbeing goals.

"Artificial pitches also do not need inputs such as cutting and aeration machinery, or chemical fertilisers and pesticides to keep them playable.

"I will consider all these aspects and will seek to ensure that controls are in place so that, if recommended for use, such pitches adhere to best practice guidelines."

Local ecologist Piers Sangan was among those to have raised a concern.

He previously told Express: "Artificial grass has very different thermal responses compared to the natural tuff substrates with some studies showing they can be 22-48 degrees Celsius hotter than the surrounding natural turf. 

"The island is currently aiming for net zero along with increasing the carbon sequestration potential of the island. However artificial pitches remove areas of grass which will absorb carbon and replace it with recycled plastics that degrade and leach into the soil and release gasses into the air."

In Jersey, there are currently nine schools with 3G sports pitches. There are large pitches at Haute Vallee, Springfield and Oakfield, while Les Quennevais has a medium-sized pitch. Smaller 3G pitches can be found at La Moye, Plat Douet, Janvrin, Grouville and St Clement.

la_moye_3g_pitch_2.png.jpeg

Pictured: A new 3G pitch was recently opened at La Moye school as the previous field was unusable for most of the year because it was sandy in the summer and muddy in the winter.

A planning application for a new 3G pitch at St. Lawrence Primary School was also lodged over summer.

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Environment Minister reviewing risks of 3G pitches

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Posted by Private Individual on
About time these pitches were investigated. Why take away a natural green field to replace it with plastic and metal fencing is beyond me. Especially as the pitches have been linked to various illnesses in the UK.

Well done Deputy Renouf for investigating this issue, we must protect the children against the toxic waste that is being used to build these pitches. Let alone the disturbance to residents who border these ill-conceived follies.
Posted by Simon Langlois on
Good to see that our Environment Minister is 'on the ball'!

Some of these pitches take quite a hammering and they don't grow back when areas wear out, they just shed micro-plastics into our environment.

They may be practical in some respects and save on maintenance costs, but they get very hot in the sun and their high friction surface causes more abrasion injuries than natural turf. No games played were ever designed to be played on artificial turf. It kills the natural soil environment underneath the surface. And 3G turf has a huge carbon footprint in its manufacture and transport, and because it's not biodegradable, at its end of life, it will end up creating pollution from being incinerated at La Collette.

With natural grass, even when you take into account the emissions from grass mowing and other turf maintenance equipment, these are more than offset by the carbon sequestration into the soil through the grass roots.

According to The Guardian a couple of months ago, "All artificial turf is made with toxic PFAS compounds and some is still produced with ground-up tires that can contain heavy metals, benzene, VOCs and other carcinogens that can present a health threat. The material also emits high levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and sheds microplastics and other chemicals into waterways."

Why is it even considered as an option to real grass in Jersey?
Posted by Private Individual on
I couldn't agree more Mr Langlois. These pitches are creating a nuisance and pollution all in one go, why can't CYPSES acknowledge this and and start to remove these toxic dumps from school sports fields. If anyone in government bothered to Google the impact these pitches have on the environment and local communities they would never be allowed to be built anywhere on the island. Were not able to buy a plastic bag but can dump tons of plastic into a school sports pitch. Its mind blowing that this has been allowed anywhere in the world.
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