An academy has won permission to install a 7,420sq metre artificial grass football pitch surrounded by 15-metre high floodlights in a village on the fringe of a national park, just months after its pupils secured an environmental ‘Plastic Free Status’ award for the school.

North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee approved Ryedale Learning Trust’s proposal to build an all-weather pitch off Gale Lane, Nawton, Beadlam, for Ryedale School, after hearing there was no such facility in the area.

Residents said the scheme would be better suited to a larger area, such as Helmsley or Kirkbymoorside, saying the eight tall floodlights would be completely out of character in the area.

They also questioned the need for an all-weather football centre, saying it would only be used by the school one third of the time and would be used as a pay as you play facility by league clubs. Residents added the local community was already well served by the nearby Becketts Field.

One resident told the meeting: “The community benefitting here would be the league clubs of the county. It is crazy to establish such a facility at Beadlam where there is neither infrastructure nor frequent public transport.

“The football league’s aspirations should not be realised at Beadlam. Developments of this scale should be confined to market towns. Ryedale School’s attention should be totally focus on Covid catch-up schemes at the moment.”

They added the light and noise pollution from the pitch would be insufferable.

One resident said: “This pitch surely goes against the school’s views on plastics and the environment.”

Chief executive of Ryedale Learning Trust, Mark McCandless claimed the school’s playing fields were “generally unplayable” from November until April.

He said its sporting facilities were inadequate of its 730 pupils and during the winter months students had “greatly restricted facilities”, and had to travel to other schools for matches.

Mr McCandless said it was timely that the school was looking to improve its facilities as calls for more local sports facilities grew.

He said the Football Foundation had offered up to £500,000 to make the scheme become a reality on the proviso it supports disability sports and women’s football.

He did not respond to the concerns over claims the school’s policy and actions were contradictory, but ahead of the meeting a trust spokesman said the development would be environmentally-friendly as it would cut the need for people to travel for sporting facilities.

Members agreed the sporting facilities would prove a welcome boost for the school and heard the pitch would enable league football to continue where otherwise matches would be cancelled.

However, Councillor Caroline Goodrick said the scheme appeared to be “putting the cart before the horse” as the lighting pollution impact on residents was likely to be significant.

Councillor David Hugill, the chairman of planning for the North York Moors National Park, said the scheme was unsuitable in a village and particularly so in close proximity to the national park, which was last year declared a Dark Skies Reserve in recognition of both its commitment to keep them unpolluted.

Nevertheless, most members said they believed planning conditions and modern lighting systems would be sufficient to ensure residents were badly affected.