Concerns raised over £1bn mining operation

SAFETY concerns have been raised over a proposed £1bn mining operation to exploit vast mineral reserves under a Yorkshire national park amid claims there are “too many unanswered questions” about the scheme.

A multi-national company, Sirius Minerals, is planning to mine the world’s most extensive deposits of potash under the North York Moors National Park. The mine, earmarked for a site south of Whitby, is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs and a further 4,000 jobs in the wider economy.

But members of Whitby Town Council, which had been in favour of the scheme, told a public meeting last night they are having second thoughts. Deputy Mayor Heather Coughlan welcomed the jobs boost but raised concerns over what would happen if the technology went wrong.

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Coun Noreen Wilson claimed she was initially impressed by the plans, but admitted the council had been “blinded by the PR and glossy brochures”, adding: “The support for the mine in the town is enormous and it will be hard not to look as if we are trying to scupper people’s hopes and jobs. But there are too many unanswered questions to support this.”

Coun Phil Trumper claimed the mine would have a positive effect on Whitby, but raised worries over traffic levels.

A Sirius Minerals spokesman said: “What we are proposing is tried and tested around the world and we are extremely grateful for the town council’s support to date. They rightly point to the huge level of local support and the extensive local jobs that the project can create.”

A planning application was submitted last month to the North York Moors National Park Authority, and a decision is due to be made in May.