CONTENTIOUS proposals to build a £1.5bn fertiliser mine in a national park have received overwhelming public support.

More than 97 per cent of 1,780 people who responded to York Potash's consultation backed its scheme to build a polyhalite mine near Whitby, a 36.5km tunnel containing conveyor belts from the mine to Teesside, a granulation and storage facility at Wilton, Teesside, and a harbour facility at Bran Sands, on

the south bank of the River Tees estuary.

The result of the consultation, which ended in September, highlights that public support for the scheme, which opponents have claimed would despoil the North York Moors National Park, has grown since a study in 2012, when

around 90 per cent of respondents supported the mine.

The consultation revealed the scheme attracted stronger support in areas such as Whitby and Redcar than in the national park, where 88 per cent of residents backed the scheme.

York Potash bosses say the project would create 1,040 direct jobs and 1,100 indirect jobs during operations, contribute £1bn to UK

GDP annually, £1.2bn in exports annually and £48m-a-year for the local economy.

They say at its peak there would be 1,670 construction jobs at the mine.

The firm, which submitted applications for the mine and a mineral transport system to the North York Moors National Park Authority and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council in September, believes the scheme's economic and social benefits and their work to lessen its environmental impact, is largely behind the growth in support.

The scheme features £30m in mitigation payments, including a £5m contribution to the park authority's management plan and £3.5m on tourism promotion over ten years, £500,000 to double train services on the Esk Valley Line, £830,000 to improve awareness of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in local schools and £10m on tree planting.

The consultation results show the lowest levels of support relate to the

environmental impact of the project and the proposed layout and design of the

harbour facility, where 86 per cent of respondents were in support.

A York Potash spokesman said: "We are grateful for the support from the local community.

"People in the area understand potash, it's a large agricultural area.

"They are supportive of the jobs and economic benefits and the measures we have brought to reduce the environmental impact."

The North Yorkshire Moors Association, which has opposed the project since it was first muted, was unavailable for comment.