A decision on replacing an artificial football pitch at a coastal secondary school has been pushed back.
Councillors were asked to put the job to renew the 3G pitch at Buckie High School out to tender at a meeting of the education, communities and organisational development committee.
However, concerns over the environmental impact and suitability for playing other sports caused members to ask for more information on cost and replacement materials, as well as considering using grass as a greener option.
An inspection of artificial playing fields at Buckie, Elgin High, Keith Grammar, Milne’s High in Fochabers and Speyside High in Aberlour was carried out by Sports Labs earlier this year.
They found pitches at Buckie and Aberlour had a lifespan of 12 months, although that could be extended at Speyside with remedial works.
Providing repairs are carried out in Keith, it could last for two years.
The ones at Elgin High and Fochabers have an expected lifespan of more than three years.
Moray Council has set aside £430,000 to resurface and maintain the playing fields with another £25,000 earmarked for 2023/24.
‘These pitches are not green’
Conservative councillor for Elgin North Frank Brown said: “These pitches are not green in any sense because the material in which they are made includes a lot of hydrocarbons.
“They’re expensive to lay and in time of a climate crisis and looking after the environment I’m not sure this is something we should particularly want.”
Claire Feaver, Conservative councillor for Forres, added: “We need to make sure each sport is dealt with fairly.
“Also I think it should be looked at being community rather than football club led. They are council grounds as such so we need to be careful.”
The Buckie pitch made around £50,000 over a three-year period prior to the Covid pandemic, and took around 500 bookings annually not including use by the school’s PE department.
The replacement cost is expected to be around £300,000.
Council officers are working on a maintenance and replacement schedule for all the artificial pitches starting next year.
Members agreed for a report to come back to committee considering all artificial replacement options as well as grass.