Concerns are raised over major potash scheme

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Opponents of a proposed major potash mine in the heart of the North York Moors have raised concerns “an enormous industrial development” is inappropriate in such spectacular surroundings.

This week York Potash said it has submitted new proposals for the proposed mine at Sneaton, near Whitby, which officers at the national park say they understand if it is operating at full capacity would be the world’s largest potash mine in terms of the amount of potash extracted. A decision on the proposals is due to be made at the start of next year.

The company says it has taken steps to reduce the impact on the environment but yesterday Tom Chadwick, chairman of the North Yorkshire Moors Association said: “We still regard this enormous industrial development as inappropriate in the National Park.

“We are especially concerned about the impact of construction traffic over a period of years and the effect this will have on the tourist industry.”

Julian Woolford, chief executive of the Campaign for National Parks warned the proposal: “...is not only a threat to the North York Moors but is of much wider significance as the decisions made on it will be an important test of the planning protection for National Parks.”

The proposal involves the building of two 1,500 metre deep mine shafts on land, near Sneaton, the extraction of polyhalite from beneath a large area in the east of the national park and the building of a 250 metre deep tunnel running 37 kilometres from the mine to Teesside where the mineral would be dealt with for export.

The proposals will be considered by both North York Moors National Park Authority and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

Chris Fraser, managing director and CEO of Sirius Minerals, York Potash’s parent company, said: “We believe we have a compelling planning case that clearly demonstrates that the York Potash Project can deliver exceptional economic benefits, not only locally here in North Yorkshire and in Teesside but also for the wider UK economy.

“We have planned the project with a very high regard for the environment and where possible minimising associated impacts.”