Whitby has no need to fear big traffic problems as a result of the proposed potash mine, says York Potash.
Responding to claims that the route from Sneatonthorpe to Guisborough via the A171 Whitby and Scaling Dam would see an almost convoy of construction traffic, the company says the increase would be not that great.
A spokesman for York Potash comments: “We have always recognised both the importance of the tourism economy and people’s concerns about the temporary impact of construction traffic.
“This is why we are going to such extraordinary lengths to reduce the impact of the project and fund promotion of the area, so that more people than ever are aware of what the North York Moors, Whitby and the Yorkshire Coast has to offer.
“The York Potash Project is going to create thousands of job opportunities and will have positive and wide ranging economic benefits for the local area, region and the UK as a whole.”
Regarding Whitby traffic, a potash spokesman said: “The 13 per cent increase in traffic at Mayfield Road relates to a comparison between our peak construction period and current background traffic levels in January.
“If you compare our peak construction period to current August traffic levels then the increase on the Mayfield junction would be only 3.9 per cent.”
He added: “It is important to note that the improvements we are proposing with the highways authority for the Mayfield junction will actually improve the capacity of the junction compared to what it is now, even taking into account the increase in traffic during construction.
“The traffic figures detailed in the application are less than those shown extensively in the company’s pre-application consultation, which attracted such wide support.
“Both include contingencies and aim to present the reasonable ‘worst case’ scenario.
“Clearly the levels of traffic depend on which part of the A171 is referred to, because construction traffic will be accessing the mineral transport system sites (which have a shorter construction period than the mine itself) at both Lockwood Beck and Lady Cross Plantation, as well as the Whitby Park and Ride.
“At the Whitby Mayfield junction, and looking at a peak construction period against peak background levels in August, it means that for every six existing HGVs there is an additional ONE York Potash HGV.”
York Potash has attacked the “sensationalist front page coverage” of this week’s Whitby Gazette, which said there were fears that there could be a truck every 2.6 minutes.
The company said that a report by Whitby Area Development Trust misunderstands the tourism assessment submitted in the planning application and “misinterprets the methodologies used”.
“It inappropriately uses an alternative methodology to calculate the economic impact on the Whitby tourism economy, which cannot be considered as reliable and greatly exaggerates the potential impact of the project on tourism,” said the spokesman.
“At full production the project will create over 1,000 direct jobs, all of which will be easily accessible form the Whitby area (over 700 will be at the mine itself).
“Furthermore, York Potash is committed to sourcing local labour wherever possible and has been working with schools, colleges and training providers for a number of years to maximise the future available workforce.”
The article said that there would be a significant increase in traffic from 7am to 7pm for carrying construction vehicles.
Charles Forgan, a member of the Coastal Tourism Advisory panel, told the Gazette: “We feel we need to flag up some of the potential problems.”