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EFL approves all-timber stadium

Forest Green Rovers' innovative new stadium will be an all-timber construction. The first of its kind in the world, the new ground has finally been given the green light by the English Football League.

The 5,000 seat ground, designed by the visionary architect Zaha Hadid who was also responsible for the 2012 Olympics aquatic centre, will be '100% vegan' according to the club's management. Club Chairman Dale Vince says the Gloucestershire team hopes to move in in 3-4 years time.

Sustainable stadia

Vince, who describes himself as a 'green energy industrialist', owns Ecotricity, a green energy firm. He points out that, from an environmental standpoint, 75% of the carbon footprint of any stadium comes from the materials used in their construction which are embedded from day one.

Putting aside the green energy used to power the stadium, its carbon footprint is lower than that of any football stadium in the world. In fact, Forest Green Rovers is the first ever UN certified carbon-neutral football club.

Long running saga

The battle to build the Forest Green Rover's stadium has been long and protracted.

Back in 2016, Zaha Hadid Architects won a competition with their ground breaking all timber design. But in 2019, Stroud District Council's planning department knocked back the original plans, which also include a business park next to the ground. Objections were raised on the grounds of noise, traffic and the impact on the surrounding environment.

The original plans were amended to include an all-weather pitch with access for local amateur teams, increased transport for match days, clarifications around noise levels and a redesigned landscaping scheme. The reworked plans were waved through by the planning committee last December.

Green practices to football

Powered by Ecotricity, the new stadium will feature other green innovations including a team strip made from recycled plastic and waste coffee grounds, and an all-vegan menu from Vince's Devil's Kitchen catering business.

Power will come from solar panels while the pitch will be free of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. Charging points for electric cars will be offered, tying into Vince's Electric Highway charging network. Rainwater will be captured from the roof to irrigate the pitch and all team vehicles will eventually be electric.

Based at the New Lawn stadium in Nailsworth since 2006, the team even has its own GPS, solar powered lawn mower, known as the Mow-Bot.

Green technology cluster

The stadium is the centrepiece of what Vince calls a 'truly sustainable' business park which aims to create 4,000 jobs in the local economy. Although 20% of the site is wetlands and the rest green fields, planning permission has been granted to provide greater biodiversity in the new landscaping scheme.

The problem of match day transport will be addressed by the provision of cycling and cross country walking routes as well as electric buses. As for the stadium itself, attention has been paid to issues like waste - the elegant curving forms are actually created from straight elements - and the distance materials will travel, creating true sustainability and a template for others to follow.

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