London | Reuters — Potash mine developer Sirius Minerals on Tuesday won the go-ahead to build a large mine in a scenic national park in Yorkshire, northern England, a company spokesman said, clearing a major hurdle in the construction of the US$3 billion project.
The North York Moors National Park’s planning committee members, who were called to vote on whether the economic benefit to the community outweighed the project’s impact on the park landscape, voted 8 to 7 in favour of construction of the York Potash polyhalite mine within the park boundaries near Whitby.
Polyhalite is used to produce fertilizers and includes plant nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, sulphur and calcium.
Sirius plans to transport ore underground by conveyor 36 km to port, and build headframes below surface to minimize the mine’s impact on the park’s moors and forest.
“We’re really disappointed that National Park Authority members have approved the construction of the world’s largest potash mine in the North York Moors,” said Ruth Bradshaw, policy and campaigns manager at the campaign for national parks.
“We have long maintained that this project is completely incompatible with National Park purposes and that the promised economic benefits could never justify the huge damage that it would do to the area’s landscape and wildlife and to the local tourism economy.”
Shares in Sirius fell by almost a third on June 18 after the North York Moors Park Authority committee published a report in which it said the project would be more harmful than beneficial to the local area.
The report, however, did not contain any official recommendation to the Park Authority members.
— Reporting for Reuters by Silvia Antonioli and Rod Nickel.