A nationwide charity which campaigns for the preservation of National Parks has called on the Government to instigate a public inquiry into the York Potash project.
The campaigners say that with different elements of the mine proposal being dealt with by various planning authorities, there is little understanding of the overall impact the project will have.
Helen Jackson, chief executive of the Campaign for National Parks, said: “We’re very concerned about the threat that this mine poses for the North York Moors. But this project also has much wider significance, as the decisions made about it will be an important test of the protection afforded to National Parks.”
The charity is therefore calling on Eric Pickles, the secretary of state responsible for planning, to hold a single public enquiry which will determine whether the development at Doves Nest Farm will go ahead.
“National parks are protected in law for good reasons,” said Mrs Jackson. “Not only are they extraordinary landscapes providing clean water, wildlife habitats and benefits critical to a healthy environment, but they also contribute significantly to the national economy.
“York Potash Ltd is arguing the mine will bring economic benefits yet has completely failed to account for the damage to local tourism.”
Two letters of objection have been submitted to the North York Moors planning authority by the campaign. A decision on the application is due on July 29.
Mrs Jackson explained the objections to the £1bn potash mine, pipeline and processing facility were based on the grounds that it does not pass the ‘major development test’. This benchmark allows large-scale developments within a national park in exceptional circumstances when they can be demonstrated to be in the national interest. The campaigners claim Sirius Minerals have not sufficiently explained why the mine can not be located outside the park’s boundaries.
Additional concerns that the mine will damage the landscape, biodiversity and recreational activities suggest York Potash Ltd have not properly understood the purposes of a National Park, say the campaigners.
Mrs Jackson added: “In our increasingly crowded island the pressure on our green spaces is immense and stopping damaging developments like the North York Moors potash mine is exactly why the Campaign for National Parks exists. We are a tiny charity with an enormous job to do.”