Media statement in response to publication of North York Moors National Park Authority's officers' report on York Potash application

The Campaign for National Parks is disappointed with the confirmation today that officers of the North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA) have failed to recommend that a planning application for the world’s largest potash mine be refused. This means that it will be up to NPA members to make one of the most crucial decisions affecting National Parks in recent times when they consider the planning application at a special planning meeting on 30 June.

However, we welcome the officers’ report’s conclusions that the conflict with the Development Plan is such that “the economic benefits and extent of the compensation offered through planning obligations do not outweigh the harm and clear conflict” to the National Park. The report also says that the policy conflict with the Development Plan and national policy is such that the proposal “does not represent exceptional circumstances.”

The Campaign for National Parks hopes that members will reject the planning application.

The decision on this planning application is an important test of the protection afforded National Parks in national planning policy as there are strong planning grounds for turning it down. 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. Those circumstances do not apply in this case.

We are concerned that much of the local support for the proposal is based on over-optimistic information in the applicant’s submissions which failed to identify the full impacts of the scheme. Reports commissioned by the NPA and recently published on their website (1) make it very clear that the proposal will be far more damaging to the National Park and to the local tourism economy than the applicant’s own assessment indicated, particularly during the five year construction period. For example, there will be far more damage to the special qualities of the National Park such as tranquillity and the strong feeling of remoteness – the reasons why many people visit the area. The new assessment makes it clear that the applicant has downplayed the level of negative impact on 13 of the 14 special qualities.

The applicants have also underestimated the noise impacts of the development and the increases in construction traffic on key routes used by visitors to the National Park. The new assessment shows that the negative impacts on other road users, including the fear and intimidation experienced by pedestrians and cyclists, will be far higher. This combined with the underplaying of the environmental impacts means that the negative impact on the local tourism economy has also been significantly underestimated. Even with the package of financial contributions proposed by the applicant, the negative impacts on tourism are unlikely to be offset.

(1) http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/planning/york-potash

Notes to Editors

The Campaign for National Parks is the independent national voice for the 13 National Parks in England and Wales. Our mission is to inspire everyone to enjoy and look after National Parks – the nation’s green treasures. For nearly 80 years we have been campaigning to ensure that our National Parks are beautiful, inspirational places that are relevant, valued and protected for all.

Background information on our campaign work against the York Potash mine can be found at www.cnp.org.uk/north-york-moors-potash-mine-threat

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