STAFF and volunteers at the North York Moors National Park Authority have planted over 40,000 trees in a year as part of a woodland creation scheme.

The project is being funded by Sirius Minerals, the company behind the development of Whitby’s new multi-million pound fertilizer mine.

The tree planting forms part of Sirius Minerals’ 100-year, £175 million planning commitment to enhance the local landscape and offset carbon emissions from its North Yorkshire polyhalite project.

It is expected that 10 million new trees will be planted in total, creating over 7,000 hectares of new woodland.

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Alasdair Fagan, woodland creation officer for the NYMNPA, said: “In addition to off-setting carbon emissions from the mine development, these vast areas of new woodland will help to enhance the character and landscape of the National Park, together with creating more diverse wildlife habitats.

“Thanks to our dedicated team of volunteers, which has recently included a team of Sirius employees, as well as local community groups, families and children from Danby Primary School, we have managed to plant over 40,000 trees in less than a year – and a further 60,000 will be planted in 2019.”

Since 2017, Sirius has provided over £4 million to the National Park, North Yorkshire County Council and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, as part of its planning permissions, to projects that will protect and enhance the environment, develop jobs and skills, support tourism and increase local rail services.

Briony Fox, director of conservation and polyhalite projects at NYMNPA, said: “Funding from Sirius has enabled us to commence our landscape and ecology programme, which has now supported a variety of projects in the area.”

“To date, these have included improvements to historic buildings and monuments, upgrades to popular walking routes such as the Coast to Coast

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Walk and Cleveland Way, as well as a projects that safeguard local ecology.”

Matt Parsons, external affairs general manager for Sirius said: “We are committed to minimising our impact on the environment and enhancing the local landscape for residents and visitors to enjoy.

"Working closely with the National Park, either by providing practical assistance or financial support, enables this to happen.

“Our staff appreciate the National Park and it was great to spend the day planting over 100 trees."