Climate change needs new approach to sports pitch care

Eirias Park

Lanes Group plc is working with a leading ground care specialist to support a growing number of sports clubs and leisure centres that need expert advice about drainage of their playing surfaces.

Sports facilities managers are increasingly concerned that outdoor pitches are feeling the strain because of changing weather patterns, higher usage rates, and the increasing use of venues for non-sporting events.

Lanes is now working with 360 Ground Care, a sports turf and grounds management specialist, in St Asaph, Denbighshire, to provide a joined-up approach to sports pitch maintenance.

Ian Somerville, Contracts Manager for 360 Ground Care, said: “We are helping a growing number of clients who face more acute drainage challenges, which is why we’re pleased to be able to draw on Lanes Group’s CCTV drainage survey, water jetting, and drain repair expertise.

“The hot, sunny weather we’ve had recently is not typical. A lot of sports pitches have been put under additional strain by the increasingly heavy all-year-round rainfall we’ve been experiencing in the last few years, which experts are now attributing to climate change.

“In many cases, drainage systems were not designed to cope with such heavy and persistent rain, so they may need more intensive ground maintenance or to install additional drainage capacity.

“Also, leisure and sports clubs are seeking to maximise revenue by using their venues for events, such as concerts. This increases the risk of drainage systems being compromised or damaged, for example by the movement of heavy vehicles during staging set up and tear down.”

Before leisure centres and sports clubs have to consider the potentially costly step of upgrading their drainage system, deploying Lanes’ no-dig drain surveying and pipe cleaning technology is a sensible first step.

Sian Wyn Jones, Area Development Manager for the Lanes North Wales and Chester depot, said: “We may be able to cure pitch drainage problems by jetting clean pipes that have become silted up or blocked, for example by root infestation.

“We can also identify sections of broken or collapsed pipe, which can be excavated and replaced or, where appropriate, renovated by cure in place pipe lining (CIPP), which would not disrupt the playing surface, and is likely to be less costly.”

The Lanes Chester depot has worked with 360 Ground Care to carry out a drainage survey at Stadiwm Zip World in Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay, Wales, home of Rygbi Gogledd Cymru (RGC) 1404, a Welsh Premier Division rugby club.

A push-rod CCTV drainage camera was used to obtain HD-quality video footage revealing the condition of 172 metres of 150mm-diameter land drainage pipe beneath the playing surface.

The survey, commissioned by the 6,080-capacity stadium’s owners, Conwy County Borough Council, is part of a planned ground care programme to keep the international standard playing surface in excellent condition.

Since the £6.8m stadium opened in 2011 it has also been used to host concerts for the likes of Elton John, Lionel Richie, Jessie J, and Tom Jones.

Sian Wyn Jones said: “Working with 360 Ground Care, we can make sure sports and leisure clubs can protect their pitches and generate the revenue they need to thrive. Setting drainage maintenance at the right level is key to using sporting venues more intensively.”

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