A CAMPAIGN group dedicated to safeguarding the landscape and culture of the North York Moors National Park has raised questions over a major scheme to offset the damage being caused by a £4.2bn polyhalite mine.

Tom Chadwick, chairman of the North Yorkshire Moors Association, said while the mining project was incompatible with the landscape, he also had concerns that the compensatory initiatives being funded by Sirius Minerals would further change the park’s character.

Mr Chadwick was speaking ahead of the North York Moors National Park Authority’s annual meeting, where members will hear Sirius has already paid £3,826,925 towards compensation and mitigation activities over Woodsmith Mine.

Members of the authority, who approved plans for the mine in 2015, will hear over the past year £252,000 of the funding has been spent on landscape and ecology projects.

Last year saw schemes at Great Ayton, Chop Gate, Rievaulx, Bilsdale and Danby launched with over 34,000 trees planted over 30ha.

The Northern Echo:

A host of other environmental projects funded through the compensation have been lined up for the coming year, ranging from £10,000 for a scheme to monitor the effect of beavers on limiting flooding at Cropton Forest to improving paths and bridleways.

Mr Chadwick said while some of the compensatory schemes were to be welcomed, they were “really buying acceptance for the damage at the site which can’t be mitigated”.

He said: “It is questionable whether this actually does compensate for the 120-acre site formerly known as Doves Nest Farm.

“The only way you can see the extent of the damage now is by sending up a drone. This is a mining development that should not be taking place in a national park.

He said while he had no objections to tree planting on the slopes and high moorland that had traditionally been forested, it would be a mistake to plant deciduous trees on agricultural land, as it would be lost to food production for hundreds of years.