CONCERNS over its impact on bats could halt an Otley school's plans to create an all-weather pitch.

Prince Henry's Grammar School is proposing to build the floodlit, artificial grass pitch, which would be available to the wider community, on the field in front of its main building.

A planning application for the scheme has been lodged with Leeds City Council and has attracted hundreds of comments from both supporters and objectors.

A new report by the council's Nature Team, however, could lead to the proposal being withdrawn - at least for now.

It concludes that: "There is currently insufficient information to confidently conclude whether the corridor along the western side of the sports pitch will be dark enough and wide enough to continue providing an important commuting/foraging resource to Common and Soprano Pipistrelle Bats, which use the boiler room as a maternity roost, located to the northeast of the proposed sports pitch.

"Rather than attempt to predict the level of darkness or width required for this corridor there should be a full survey season of commuting/foraging surveys carried out in full conformity with the Bat Conservation Trust Guidelines."

It adds: "In light of the need for a more complete assessment of bat activity across the site it would seem sensible to withdraw this application until the full suite of surveys and analysis of potential impacts from lighting can be better understood."

The pitch plan is being supported by Sport Chevin, a number of local sports clubs, the Football Foundation and Sport England.

Local residents, however, have mobilised to oppose it and say it would be too close to neighbouring homes and ruin their peace and quiet.

Residents also raised concerns about the impact on wildlife in general, and bats specifically, at a recent meeting of Otley Town Council's Planning Sub Committee.

All bat species, along with their breeding sites and resting places, are fully protected by law.

Prince Henry's Grammar School has been approached for a comment.

*More to follow.