Local councils give backing to potash project ahead of big meeting

The borough and county councils have both given their backing to the York Potash planning application to build a mine within the National Park on the outskirts of Whitby.

Both local authorities made the public stance this week as the planning boss at the North York Moors National Park Authority gave his strongest indication yet that the scheme would be rejected.

Chris France refused to be drawn into further comment on the 229 page document that will be put to members of the planning committee, who are set to discuss the controversial plans at a special meeting on Tuesday (June 30) at Sneaton Castle.

But in the report he said: “The proposal does not represent exceptional circumstances which is the highest bar that the 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.”

However, the borough council said it would particularly welcome the £2 million development of 30 acres of land at Whitby Business Park, a local recruitment process via Jobmatch, a construction skills village in Scarborough and a £750,000 construction, manufacturing and engineering apprenticeship programme that approval of the project would create.

Cllr Derek Bastiman, leader of the borough council said: “We are wholeheartedly in favour. The development is critical to enabling the boroughs of Scarborough and Ryedale to diversify their economies and create a more resilient economic base. We recognise the significant impact it would have on transforming the short and long term economic prospects of our communities through creation of jobs, supply chain opportunity and inward investment.”

He was supported by Gareth Dadd, North Yorkshire County Council leader, who reminded the National Park to take “full account” of the potential benefits to the local, sub-regional and national economy.

While he appreciated the role of the National Park to protect “this beautiful, unique environment” he added that “as a local authority it also our duty to ensure the region develops a vibrant, long-term economic future in order to sustain and support its communities, especially its young people.

“This application supports a major strategic industry for the region and as such we welcome the many potential benefits it will bring across the range of employment and economic developments.”

However, the Campaign for National Parks group said it was disappointed that Mr France didn’t go as far as recommending refusal of the application based around the former Dove’s Nest Farm site at Sneaton.

A spokesperson added that local support for the mine was “based on over optimistic information in the applicants submissions”.

An earlier report based upon two studies has said the mine will cost the area £10.3 million annually in lost tourism revenue plus 150 jobs for the construction period. A further £5.2 million will be lost each year when the mine is operational.

Although the reports don’t state how the figures were arrived at they are based upon people’s perceptions of the project and future plans to visit the area as a result.