Park fears 
raise new worries for potash mine plan

PLANS to establish one of the world’s largest potash mines in North Yorkshire suffered a blow yesterday when the authority dealing with the proposals highlighted a number of concerns over the project.

The site near Sneaton

A report from the North York Moors National Park Authority, which will be considered by its members before they make a decision on the York Potash application later this month, stopped short of making a clear recommendation, but gave a strong indication that the proposed mine should be refused.

It came as it emerged yesterday that North Yorkshire County Council has written to the NYMNPA backing the proposals, which it says will bring huge economic benefits to the area.

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Members of the authority will decide on the application at a special planning meeting at Sneaton Castle, Whitby, on June 30.

Although the national park’s report doesn’t give a recommendation on whether the proposed mine, at the former Dove’s Nest farm site at Sneaton, near Whitby, should be approved or refused, it did say the benefits of the mine do not outweigh the principles of the National Park.

“The proposal does not represent exceptional circumstances, which is the highest bar that planning policy requires.

“It is therefore considered that the economic benefits and extent of the mitigation/compensation offered through planning obligations do not outweigh the extent of the harm and clear conflict with the development plan.”

It says the project would create a “significant economic benefit” locally and nationally, in terms of exports and jobs. But it said the National Park’s priority is not economic, but to protect the North York Moors for the nation.

Sirius Minerals, the parent company of York Potash, has said the development would see 1,000 jobs created and North Yorkshire County Council said yesterday that it welcomes the economic, employment and skills benefits the mine would bring.

In a letter to the NYMNPA, the council, which has responsibility for transport infrastructure, education, skills training and economic development, says full account must be taken of potential benefits to the economy.

Council deputy leader Gareth Dadd said: “We support this application because we can see there is strong evidence of a range of positive impacts on the local economy in North Yorkshire, including outside the National Park.

“We fully accept that all checks and balances must be in place to protect this beautiful unique environment, but as a local authority it is also our duty to ensure that the region develops a vibrant, long-term economic future in order to sustain and support its communities, especially its young people.”

Chris Fraser, managing director of Sirius Minerals, has said the project is a ‘once in a generation opportunity’.

“We believe our planning case stands up to scrutiny and we remain determined to pursue the positive planning decision that will allow us to deliver this project and all of its benefits.”