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North Yorkshire potash mine green-lit

Words: Laura Edgar

Plans for a £1.7 billion potash mine have been approved by members of the North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA).

The mine, which will be the world’s largest, will be at Dove’s Nest Farm near Whitby, with much of its associated infrastructure on the North York Moors.

Developer Sirius Minerals also plans to build a 23-mile tunnel to a processing plant in Teesside.

Chris Fraser, managing director of the company, said: “We have made a major step forward and now have a pathway to reaching production and unlocking ever more value for our shareholders.”

Fraser emphasised that the project always had a compelling case.

“It will not only generate so many jobs and economic benefits, but also because it is accompanied by such extensive mitigations, safeguards and environmentally sensitive design. We now look forward to delivering it," he said.

Andy Wilson, chief executive of NYMNPA, said the decision was a culmination of thorough examination and in-depth discussions.

“I appreciate that there will be many disappointed by the decision, but members felt that the long-term benefits for the local, regional and national economy were transformational. This truly exceptional nature plus the measures proposed by the company to mitigate harm and deliver widespread environmental benefits to the park over a long period of time tipped the balance in favour of approval.”

The Campaign for National Parks has expressed its disappointed at the decision.

The organisation has maintained throughout the planning process that the project is not compatible with National Park purposes.

Policy and campaigns manager Ruth Bradshaw said: “The only way to ensure that the full implications of this extensive proposal, with its multiple and complex applications, is for there to be a public inquiry covering the whole of the York Potash project and for the final decision to be made by the secretary of state.”

The Campaign for National Parks has previously called for a public inquiry to ensurethat decisions would be made “on an accurate understanding of the overall costs and benefits of the whole project. “Given there are strong planning grounds for refusing this application, we are confident that any public inquiry would result in the decision being overturned so we can finally see an end to this threat to the North York Moors.”

The campaign group is also considering a legal challenge of the decision.