The Oaklands Sportsground is home to Ponthir Cricket and Ponthir Football who use the Ponthir Sports and Community Club (PSCC) as their base. But a huge swathe of the ground, which is the only publicly accessible greenspace between Caerleon and Cwmbran, is unable to be used because of the danger posed by the overhead power lines. As well as "blighting" sporting activities, they also adversely impact the visual environment.
Western Power has offered to bury the cables but the PSCC contribution to the costs will be about £35,000 and we just don't have that sort of money in the bank. If we can raise the funds we will not only see the cables removed, but it will also enable a major re-wilding project to take place under the "Local Places For Nature" program that will fund the creation of meadow and wetland habitats, including a village pond for Ponthir.
The "power line problem" will not only cost money to resolve, it has already meant that the club has had to hand back £20,000 of grant aid that would have seen a new football pitch created but only when the cables were buried! We estimate that almost 16,000 square metres of potential playing surface cannot be used - that's almost FOUR football pitches!
It's not just our existing members who cannot use this huge area, it's the hundreds of today's youngsters who cannot even join the club because we have playing space for them, whatever their choice of sport, and soon it will be their children and their children's children who will lose out. families who can afford to take their children to Cwmbran or Newport to play sport in the many facilities those towns offer are not affected by the "power line problem" or so they think; but in reality they are, because they are deprived of the opportunity of playing sport in their locality, with their friends! And if you happen to not have a family car, you are even worse off because public transport won't get you home from a late evening training session.
Well that depends how you value things. Yes we have good housing, lots of it, and we don't have high levels of financial deprivation, but our environmental standards as measure by the Welsh Government's Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD) proves that you can be well off financially, but have one of the lowest environmental standards in Wales - that's Ponthir, nice place but......! And it's why we are trying to make our sportsground more available and more suitable to more people from the local community. It's why we are not just intending to set out lots more sports pitches, but also through our engagement with the "Local Places for Nature" (LP4N) program we intend to return as much of the land as possible back to natural habitats, buy we can't do that with 11 Kilovolts running through cables just above our heads.
A trite answer would be "Why should we?" but the reality is that there is nowhere else. The Oaklands Sportsground is the ONLY PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE GREENSPACE BETWEEN CAERLEON AND CWMBRAN. If we move out, the housing developers will move in, and they certainly will get the powerlines buried, but at what cost? Rather more than £35,000 in financial terms, but the social, environmental and sporting costs will be incalculable. Our cricket team has existed since 1881, the football team for slight less time, but they are both important features of our community, both invest a lot of time and energy in encouraging youngsters to play sport but they could do so much more if more space could be made available as a result of the powerlines being buried.
Well so far enough people care to have collectively donated over £7,500 and if you read the comments they left with their donations you will get a feel for the passion and the support that exists for the project but above all else you will appreciate the benefits that will come to everyone if we succeed in our aim.
Please help us get rid of the power lines, (and the far too frequent power outages that result) but most of all, help us make the Oaklands Sports Ground a vibrant place where sports and the natural environment can thrive and develop! If every household in Ponthir donated just £25 into our Crowdfunder project we would almost certainly be able to "Bury Ponthir's Powerlines!"