Buckie will get a new all-weather sports pitch to replace the existing one that is becoming unplayable.
Members of the education, children’s and leisure services committee today agreed to put out to tender work for the playing field at the town’s high school to be replaced with a similar 3G surface.
There will also be a maintenance programme for other all-weather pitches at Keith Grammar, Speyside High School in Aberlour, Milne’s High School in Fochabers and Elgin High.
Councillors also gave approval for Moray Council officers to work with Forres Community Football Trust to look at options for an all-weather playing field in the town.
At the moment there is no such pitch in Forres.
However, independent councillor for the town George Alexander told the committee any pitch should not have to rely on charity donations to bring it to fruition.
Mr Alexander said: “I really think councillors need to understand most towns in Moray have had an artificial pitch for 10 years or more, Forres Academy has not got one of these pitches.
“Suggesting that we have to raise the funds ourselves is utterly shameful.
“Forres as a town has been deprived of this, with folk reduced to using boggy grass pitches.
“I’ve not got a problem with Buckie getting their pitch upgraded, but I ask that this is not kicked down the road.”
Forres ‘deprived’ of sports pitch
Councillors were first asked to put the job to renew the Buckie Community High School pitch out to tender at a meeting of the education, communities and organisational development committee in August.
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.
The report before members today showed a well maintained grass pitch could only sustain eight hours of use per week compared to 30 hours for an artificial surface.
During an inspection of the playing fields carried out earlier this year, it was found those at Buckie and Aberlour had a lifespan of 12 months, although remedial work could extended that at Speyside.
Providing repairs are carried out in Keith, it could last for two years.
The ones at Elgin High and Fochabers have a 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.
£430,000 earmarked for work
The Buckie pitch brought in around £50,000 in fees for the council over a three-year period prior to the Covid pandemic, taking around 500 bookings annually not including those by the school’s PE department.
The replacement cost is expected to be around £300,000.
Members also agreed to sign up to the Sports for Climate Action initiative to make sure developments are the progressed in a environmentally friendly manner.