PLANNING chiefs at a Yorkshire council have attempted to allay long-running conservation fears over the impact that a £1bn potash mine would have on some of the region’s most treasured landscapes as they set out the huge economic benefits the controversial scheme would bring.
The report by Scarborough Borough Council claimed that creating the potash mine in the North York Moors National Park will provide a huge boost to the coastal economy and generate an “unprecedented” number of jobs.
Senior councillors in Scarborough, who will not decide the application, were told at a meeting yesterday of the major economic opportunities for communities along the Yorkshire coast before the mine plans will ultimately be decided other planning authorities.
In the report, the council’s planning services manager, David Walker, says that the number of jobs likely to be created is “unprecedented” and it is estimated the proposed mine would contribute over £1bn to GDP per annum, representing a 10 per cent addition to the economic output of North Yorkshire.
He added: “The economic benefits of this proposal are a material and very significant planning consideration. Although the figures provided are estimates, it is clear that this development will have a major positive impact on the economy of Scarborough Borough both inside and outside the national park, in terms of job creation, diversification of the economy, and investment into the economy.”
Mr Walker’s report was considered by members of Scarborough Borough Council’s planning and development committee and members were urged to share their opinions.
York Potash’s proposals to build a minehead at Doves’s Nest Farm, at Sneaton, near Whitby, associated buildings and the building of an underground tunnel to transport the material to Teesside for processing will be later discussed by both North York Moors National Park Authority and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.
Members of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council will meet on Thursday to discuss the building of the tunnel and associated works in its district. The plans are being recommended for approval.
However, the Campaign for National Parks (CNP) policy and research manager, Ruth Bradshaw, earlier warned of the “damage it will cause to landscape, biodiversity and recreational activities” of the national park and says the visual impact during the building work would be “considerable”.
She warned the application is an important test of planning protection for national parks, and added: “This project is simply incompatible with the statutory purposes of national parks.”
Mr Walker’s report says that the authority does not consider the proposal “will adversely affect the historic landscape setting of Whitby or any of its heritage assets including the abbey”. But he says steps must be taken to mitigate the potential “disturbance and disruption” from heavy goods vehicles for local residents during building works, if the plans are given the go-ahead.
York Potash’s parent company, Sirius Minerals, announced in February 2011 that it had drawn up proposals for the mine. Exploratory drilling work has since pinpointed one of the world’s most extensive seams of potash, a key component in fertiliser.