A CHARITY claims that building a potash mine could impact on day visitors to Whitby and the surrounding coastal villages.

The Whitby Area Development Trust has produced a report which it says shows day tourists to the Whitby area could fall as a result of construction work on the proposed potash mine on the North York Moors.

But the conclusions have been strenuously denied by York Potash, who said the figures in the report came from their own research and have been misinterpreted.

The research it commissioned from Ipsos Mori concluded that the impact on tourism would be limited and supported the proposals.

The development trust works for the environmental and economic wellbeing of the area covering Whitby, Esk Valley and coastal villages from Staithes to Robin Hoods Bay and produced a 30-page assessment on the impact of the potash mine on day visitors to the area.

It says 60 per cent of all day visitors to the North York Moors National Park visit Whitby as the main destination.

It concludes that since all access roads to Whitby would be affected by construction traffic, it will impact on day visitor numbers, which in turn will harm tourism in the North York Moors National Park.

The report states that an assessment commissioned by York Potash calculates a drop of five per cent a year in total tourism revenues from day visitors to the park and Whitby during construction, and four per cent per year afterwards.

It says it has calculated a potential loss of almost 4.5m day visits and £150m of revenue over the five-year construction period.

The report states: “If Whitby’s visitors do not choose to visit elsewhere in the park, that would represent a drop of 16.9 per cent in day visits and revenues to the national park as a whole.”

But York Potash said in a statement: “Having only just received this report, our initial review suggests that a number of significant misinterpretations have been made and we will be seeking to engage with its authors to discuss this further.

“The York Potash Project will have positive and substantial economic benefits on the region and the UK as a whole. Overall the project is going to create thousands of job opportunities for the local area in addition to providing millions of pounds of funding to help promote local tourism.”

York Potash has pledged £3.5m for tourism promotion over ten years.