A private school has been slammed for its plans to put "unsustainable" and "evil" artificial turf on one of its playing fields.

Highgate School, in North Road, has applied to Haringey Council for planning permission for a synthetic pitch on its Far-Field Playing Field, as well as the refurbishment of an existing changing pavilion.

The school says the field in Courtenay Avenue is regularly used for many sports but is often impossible to play on following bad weather.

But more than a dozen objections have been lodged, saying the plastic grass is bad for wildlife, biodiversity, water management and made from fossil fuels.

Among them, Catherine Burgett-Meakin, chair of the sustainable living group at conservation group the Highgate Society, wrote: "In every way it is ill-advised and unsustainable. It is made from material derived from fossil fuels.   

"The school says it will preserve the margins of the field for biodiversity but this in no way compensates for the large area that will be covered with false grass, sealing in all the soil below, and thus damaging the biodiversity of the majority of the field."

Speaking to this paper, she added: "I can well imagine it's a mud bath for much of the year as all places are in the winter but I don't think that's an excuse for putting this really evil stuff down."

Peter Cassidy of the Highgate conservation area committee said: "Failure to maintain the existing drainage system cannot be used to justify the change to an artificial pitch."

Another objector quoted the school's website, which says: "Highgate is committed to raising awareness of environmental sustainability and encouraging our pupils, their families and our staff to be as green as we can be."

They said "the application has damaged the school's commitment to the environment," adding that it was "not too late" to withdraw this "controversial and awful" plan.

A Highgate School spokesperson said: “We are committed to building the most sustainable and environmentally friendly synthetic grass hockey pitch possible, and therefore have undertaken various environmental assessment studies to be included in our planning application. 

"We are working with experts to conduct a further study, which will be submitted as part of the planning process.”