The Open Spaces Society has joined with 28 other environment and amenity organisations, including the Campaign for National Parks (CNP), in strongly urging the North Yorks Moors National Park Authority to refuse an application for a massive potash mine inside the North York Moors National Park. CNP, with our support, has sent the following open letter to members of the National Park Authority.
To all Members of the North York Moors National Park Authority
Next week, you will be considering one of the most important decisions affecting National Parks in recent times. On Tuesday you will decide whether to allow York Potash Ltd (YPL) to build the world’s largest potash mine on a site well inside the National Park. Not only is this proposal a huge threat to the North York Moors, but the decision is also a critical test of the protection provided to National Parks under national planning policy.
The major development test laid down in the National Planning Policy Framework states that developments of this scale are only allowed in a National Park in exceptional circumstances and when they can be demonstrated to be in the public interest. As the National Park Authority you will be taking a view in terms of:
1. Is there a proven national need for the development?
2. Is this development the only possible site or supply, either inside or outside the National Park?
3. Can the harm inflicted on the Park by the development be mitigated?
The Campaign for National Parks believes the answer to all these questions is no. We do not consider that YPL has provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate the national need. Similarly there is insufficient evidence that alternative sites outside the National Park have been adequately considered. As you will be aware, planning permission should not be granted simply because it is more cost-effective for YPL to develop in the National Park than elsewhere. The potential damage to the landscape during the construction phase is so substantial that Natural England has submitted a formal objection. There would also be lasting damage to the wildlife and landscape of the area.
There are strong grounds for turning down this proposal but we know that there are also many people arguing that priority should be given to the potential economic benefits of the project, particularly the large number of new jobs that are promised. However, even YPL’s own documents make it clear that few of these jobs will go to local people and independent research* has identified that the negative impacts on the local tourism economy will be far higher than YPL have acknowledged. If the development goes ahead, there will be huge disruption to residents and visitors during the five year construction period which will damage the enjoyment of the National Park and the qualities for which it was designated.
We urge you to fulfil National Park purposes, refuse this application and demonstrate that the principle and integrity of National Parks remain something of over-riding national value.
Supported by the following 29 organisations:
Brecon Beacons Park Society
British Mountaineering Council
Campaign for Better Transport
Campaign for National Parks
Camping and Caravanning Club
CPRE (national office)
CPRE (North Yorkshire Branch)
Cymdeithas Eryri Snowdonia Society
Dartmoor Preservation Association
Friends of the Lake District
Friends of the Peak District
Friends of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
John Muir Trust
New Forest Association
North Yorkshire Moors Association
Open Spaces Society
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Scottish Campaign for National Parks
South Downs Society
The Wildlife Trusts
The Woodland Trust
Yorkshire Dales Society
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Youth Hostels Association
* Whitby Area Development Trust, Assessment of the York Potash Ltd Development Proposals on the Day Visitor Economy of the Whitby Enclave and NYM National Park, 3 February 2015