THRILL seekers are to be allowed to carry on rolling down a Flintshire hill in a giant ball.
Have You Got The Ball Ltd runs ‘sphereing’, an activity which sees adrenalin junkies tumble down a hill in a large inflatable ball on land opposite Bryn Coch Road in Whitford, near Holywell.
Yesterday members of Flintshire Council’s planning committee considered a retrospective planning application by the company and discussed whether the activity should be allowed to continue.
Fears were raised that the sphereing (sometimes known as zorbing) which operates at the Whitford site from April to October, might startle horses using the bridleway next door and endanger riders and animals.
Whitford councillor Chris Dolphin told the meeting he believed the application should be rejected.
“The bridleway is no more than one to two metres from the take-off point where the ball starts to roll,” he said, adding: “There is a place for these activities but it’s not here.”
The British Horse Society had also raised concerns that the giant balls would scare horses on the bridleway.
A statement from the organisation read: “Bearing in mind that horses are prey animals whose only defence is flight and who have all-round vision and extremely acute hearing, it is believed they would be absolutely terrified by this activity taking place anywhere in that field.”
But Richard Wooton, director of Have You Got The Ball Ltd, told the meeting horses had not been alarmed by the sphereing in the 12 months since the business started and added his company helped boost the local economy.
He said: “Thirty-nine per cent of people who visit us stay overnight or for the weekend locally and 45 per cent eat and drink locally when they come.
“The question is if horses are that jumpy should they be allowed on a public bridleway?”
He added: “Myself and my wife have invested our life savings in this venture.”
Planning officers had recommended the application for refusal on the grounds “the activity has a detrimental impact upon the safety and enjoyment of horse riders” using the bridleway.
But councillors decided to allow the business to go ahead for another year when the application will be reassessed.
See full story in the Leader