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Threat to North York Moors National Park

June 11, 2013

This today from the Campaign for National Parks:

June 2013:
North York Moors National Park a stream near Osmotherley (Tessa Bunney)

Proposals for a major new potash mine continue to threaten the North York Moors but this project also has much wider significance as decisions made on it will be an important test of the protection afforded National Parks in the National Planning Policy Framework published in March 2012.

Read our first objection letter here and final objection letter here.

Read our call for a public inquiry here.

York Potash Ltd (YPL) submitted their planning application to the National Park Authority (NPA) in early February and the NPA is expected to decide whether to grant permission at a Special Planning Committee on 29 July. The chosen site sits at the heart of the National Park in a pleasant woodland area close to the popular long-distance Coast to Coast trail which in 2004 was considered the second best walk in the world by a body of experts.

The company are primarily trying to justify citing such a major development in a protected landscape by arguing that it will bring significant economic benefits to the area. We have been questioning the accuracy of some of their claims since the project was first proposed and have also raised concerns about the damage to the local tourism economy. Recently published research commissioned by the NPA backs up our concerns. This found that there would be a 15% reduction in the number of visitors to the National Park during the four year construction period for the mine resulting in a loss of over £40 million of direct tourism expenditure per year.

YPL submitted further information in April which suggests some of their initial application was over-optimistic and inaccurate. The revised submission says that around 1.2 million cubic metres of spoil will be created at the site but a miscalculation meant that only about half this amount (600,000 cubic metres) was stated in the original application. Such fundamental errors raise significant doubts about the accuracy of other information they’ve provided.

What are we doing about this?

We are working with local campaigners to ensure that the National Park purposes (the laws that safeguard National Parks) are fully recognised in planning decisions and to secure the tranquillity and beauty of this part of the North York Moors.

We have objected to the proposal on the grounds that it does not pass the major development test which only allows developments of this scale in a National Park in exceptional circumstances and when they can be demonstrated to be in the national interest. YPL have still not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate why alternative sites outside the National Park are not suitable or to justify their claims for exceptional circumstances.  Read our objection letter here.

We’re concerned about the way in which individual parts of this project are being considered in isolation from each other. In addition to the minehead, the project includes a proposed processing plant on Teeside, a pipeline to transport the mineral to Teeside and offshore developments. Each of these developments will be going through separate approval processes. Approval for the pipeline, around half of which is within the National Park, will be determined by the National Infrastructure Directorate.  An application for this is due to be submitted in Spring 2013. We believe the full impact of all parts of the project need to be considered together so we are also calling for the whole of this project to be called in for determination by the Secretary of State following a single public inquiry.  Read our call for a public inquiry here.

Thank you to all those who donated to our Fighting Fund to support this campaign – you can still make a donation to help support this campaign here.

What can you do to help?

 It’s important that the views of those who feel the largest potash mine in the world should not be located in the National Park are heard, particularly given that the company claim that there is strong local support. If you share our concerns, here are some ideas for what you could do to help:
 Write to the Yorkshire Post, Whitby Gazette or other local newspapers in the run-up to the NPA’s Special Planning Committee meeting on 29 July.
  • Post comments on relevant articles on the websites of these newspapers.
  • Write to the national media to highlight the wider significance of the decisions being made on this planning application and to highlight the need for a public inquiry which considers all aspects of the project.
  • Contact Ruth Bradshaw to be added to our e-newsletter circulation list to ensure you receive updates about our future work on this issue at ruth@cnp.org.uk
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