Proposed potash mine at Sneaton

If you look at the North York Moors National Park Authority website under ‘Planning Applications’ you will find that it states “The National Park is a special place and planning has an important role in guiding development at the same time as safeguarding the natural and built environment”.

If you look at the bottom of a letter from the NYMNPA you will find that it states “Working together to sustain the landscape and life of the North York Moors for both present and future generations to enjoy”. I believe it previously said “A landscape to care for, a place to enjoy”.

Further, the Major Development Trust states that planning permission for developments such as the potash mine should be refused except in exceptional circumstances where it can be demonstrated that they are in the public interest.

In other words the stance taken by the National Park is that development should be severely limited in order to preserve the quality of the landscape. This can be demonstrated by the very limited number of developments which have been allowed since the National Park was set up in 1952. I am sure that most residents of the National Park have felt aggrieved at some time by the refusal of planning permission for something which would be allowed in a non-protected area. I have personal experience of a development which was not allowed as it was claimed to be outside of a village boundary & thus in ‘open countryside’ when the village boundary in question did not exist and the site was surrounded by existing buildings.

The question then of the possibility of allowing a large-scale development such as the proposed mine at Sneaton flies directly in the face of planning philosophy as it is in an area of ‘open countryside’ where normally no development would be allowed, unless associated with agriculture, & however well screened by trees the mine will still have a visual impact on the environment. Even agricultural structures such as barns are only allowed if they are constructed from certain materials. Having most of the workings hidden underground will still mean that there are environmental effects such as noise and increased traffic on narrow roads. One can imagine that a potash mine would have a detrimental effect on tourism which is a very important part of the local economy. If going underground is the answer then perhaps other forms of development such as sub-surface housing would be allowed in open countryside. I somehow think not.

There appears to be a ‘fait accompli’ feeling with the planners that the scheme will get the go ahead when the planning application is made. This is largely based on the promise by York Potash that the mine will create about 1,000 jobs locally and so it seems that all the points about protecting the environment will overruled. What will happen if promised employment figures are not reached?

York Potash are not carrying out the project simply just to create jobs. They are doing it purely for their own shareholders profit and they are not philanthropists. A simple internet search will reveal that deposits of potash are found in many other areas of the world. Canada alone has 4,400,000 million tons of potash reserves compared to a mere 22 million tons in the UK. All of the UK’s reserves lie in the Whitby area, and extraction is already catered for by the large (and very unattractive mine outside the National Park) at Boulby which is only about 12 miles to the north. It would thus seem that the proposed mine is not only controversial but is also unnecessary.

The project does not belong in a National Park and the public should expect the North York Moors National Park to do its duty & protect the natural environment.

Dr John Houghton-Moss, Stonegate Road, Moor Allerton, Leeds