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MPs urge National Park to approve mine plans

The mine would be built south of Whitby Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Three MPs have published a joint letter in support of plans to create a potash mine near Whitby in North Yorkshire, describing it as a 'once in a lifetime opportunity'.

Fellow Conservatives Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby) and Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) have joined the Labour MP Anna Turley (Redcar) in highlighting what they say are the benefits of the project.

The plan, put forward by mining company Sirius Minerals, was approved in April by Redcar and Cleveland councillors. It will go before members of the North York Moors Park Planning Authority on Tuesday 30th June.

The York Potash project, as it is known, would include a mine south of Whitby and a transportation system to take the material to a processing plant at Wilton on Teesside. It would cost £1.7bn and would be the UK's first new potash mine for forty years.

The mine would be situated on the edge of the national park. Opponents say it would blight the landscape and argue the area should be protected from development of this nature.

In their letter to park authority members, the MPs urge them to 'grasp the opportunity and approve the planing application for the benefit of all'.

The York Potash project brings with it the chance to secure a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the lives of thousands of people in our area.

A positive decision will bring enormous social and economic benefits to the area by creating jobs, improving training and education opportunities for young people, providing community facilities and by generating more wealth in the economy.

– Robert Goodwill MP, Anna Turley MP, Kevin Hollinrake MP

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Baby otter born at Wearside nature reserve

A baby otter has been born at the Washington Wetland Centre on Wearside.

The Asian short-clawed otter cub has been named Little Squeak because of her high-pitched cries.

She was born on 22 May to Musa and Mimi.

Aviculture and captive animal manager Kristian Purchase said: “It’s still early days for her, she currently weighs 149 grams, has no teeth and won’t open her eyes until she reaches about 40 days old, so it will be a few weeks before Musa and Mimi bring her outside."

Asian short-clawed otters are a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Dinosaur find in Whitby is UK's oldest

The dinosaur bone will go on display next week Credit: ITV

Experts say they have identified Britain's oldest sauropod dinosaur from a fossil bone discovered on the North Yorkshire coast. The backbone originates from a group of dinosaurs that includes the largest land animals to have ever walked on Earth.

The dinosaur bone from the Middle Jurassic Period at about 176 million years old was found on a beach at Whitby after it fell out of a cliff face. It represents the earliest skeletal record of this type of dinosaur from the United Kingdom and adds to existing evidence from Yorkshire dinosaur tracks that this part of the country was once Britain's very own "Jurassic World", say researchers at the University of Manchester.

Sauropods - often referred to as brontosaurs - include some of the largest plant-eating dinosaurs to have roamed the Earth and were a successful group for nearly 150 million years. They possessed distinctive long necks and tails, small heads, a large body and walked on all fours. Some species such as the Argentinosaurus grew up to 115ft long and possibly weighed as much as 80 tonnes. The fossil is said to be an extremely rare find, given the Middle Jurassic rocks of the world are only exposed in a few areas such as China and Argentina where similar-aged dinosaur fossils originate.

Professor Phil Manning and his team from the University of Manchester used X-ray tomography to study the fossil bone, which is now held in the collections at the Yorkshire Museum in York.

Prof Manning said: "Many scientists have worked on the amazing dinosaur tracks from the Middle Jurassic rocks of Yorkshire. "It was a splendid surprise to come face-to-face with a fossil vertebra from the Jurassic rocks of Yorkshire that was clearly from a sauropod dinosaur. This fossil offers the earliest 'body fossil' evidence for this important group of dinosaurs in the United Kingdom but it is impossible to define a new species based upon this single bone."

Until more bones are discovered the team have simply nicknamed Britain's oldest sauropod dinosaur Alan, after the finder of this prehistoric giant, Alan Gurr.

Sarah King, curator of natural science at the Yorkshire Museum, said: "We have some of the best examples of fossils from the area in our collections and we are delighted to be able to display the vertebra of Britain's oldest sauropod alongside them for the public to enjoy."

The vertebra will be on show at the Yorkshire Museum from June 8.

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Controversial fracking proposals to be submitted

An energy company is to submit controversial plans for fracking in North Yorkshire to the county's council today.

Parts of the North Yorkshire Moors could be subject to fracking Credit: Press Association

Third energy say they want permission "to hydraulically stimulate and test various geological formations, at the existing Well KM8 at Kirby Misperton".

Samples were taken from the site in 2013 which suggested it was not suitable for drilling, however, samples from deeper sections of the rock produced better results.

The Frack Free Rydale group are planning to protest the move saying that approval could lead to more than 900 wells in the area.

Region's beaches are among the best

The region is blessed with wonderful beaches. Credit: ITV News

Six of the region's beaches have been granted Blue Flags Awards - which recognise the international standard for the best beaches in the world.

They are:

  • Sandhaven Beach, South Shields
  • Longsands, Tynemouth
  • King Edwards Bay, Tynemouth
  • Whitley Bay
  • Scarborough North Bay
  • Whitby

In addition, eight beaches in the North East have received the Seaside Award - Keep Britain Tidy's own award for the beaches that meet the highest standards for cleanliness and facilities.

These are:

  • Longsands, Tynemouth
  • King Edwards Bay, Tynemouth
  • Whitley Bay
  • Cullercoats
  • Sandhaven Beach, South Shields
  • Seaton Carew Central, Hartlepool
  • Roker, Sunderland
  • Seaburn, Sunderland

Breathalysers to be used in bars in Durham

Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Breathalysers will be used in a number of bars and clubs in Durham City this evening, as part of a new river safety pilot project.

Last week a report by the charity ROSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) made a number of recommendations, including additional lighting along the river bank and improving pathways.

Anyone believed to be intoxicated will be breathalysed, and if they are over the limit they could be refused entry.

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