A NORTH Yorkshire environmental group is calling on the council and M&S, Costa Coffee and McDonald’s to think twice about their "tie-up" with oil giant BP as a new petrol station puts countryside at risk.

Thirsk Friends of the Earth is calling on M&S, Costa Coffee – which is owned by Coca-Cola – and McDonald’s to withdraw from a tie-up with oil giant BP to build a new service station, where they will all have a presence, on the edge of the town.

The group is asking the public to back it and sign a letter of support.

As well as the environmental impact of a new station, David Tonge, local group coordinator for Thirsk Friends of the Earth, says the application conflicts the Hambleton's draft local plan, which looks to protect the countryside and Thirsk in a town centre-first approach.

By introducing food and coffee options at a petrol station, Mr Tonge believes more people will stop off to fill up and get a coffee on their way to the North Yorkshire Moors or various beauty spots, instead of going into the town centre, which has a wealth of independent coffee shops and food outlets.

He said: "There is no problem with McDonald's or Costa, but go into an empty unit in the town centre instead.

"Getting people to stay in Thirsk longer is an objective of the draft local plan, but this will not be served by giving visitors additional reasons to fuel up and have a coffee or burger on the edge of town before heading elsewhere, rather than stopping off in Thirsk, spending locally and possibly being attracted to stay."

Exceptions to the plan can be made when there is just demand, however the man argues there is not.

While some have welcomed both the temporary and permanent jobs the development will bring, the Friends of the Earth lead argues job creation benefits are "heavily outweighed by the adverse impacts".

He added: "The fact BP is building new stations mean they have plans to emit pollutants for the next 20 or 30 years when we need to move away from fossil fuels.

"BP expects to sell 7.5 million litres of fuel per year at the proposed station. That’s a lot of greenhouse gases."

The proposed site does, however, include four electric vehicle charging points.

"There is a need for the electric charging points," the man added. "But we need them in all sorts of places, not in green space."

The planning application has been recommended for approval from both Sowbery Parish Council and Thirsk town Council.

A spokesperson from Hambleton District Council, which makes the final decision, said:“This application is currently being considered and as part of this process, like any planning application, a number of issues are taken into account, including suitability of location.

"Analysis of the responses received as part of the consultation process around this application, is also currently underway. At this stage we anticipate a report being made available in the autumn with the findings determining the next stage of the process.”

On the planning application, available online, of 52 of the 53 comments received are objections. As well as the local economy and environmental and climate change factors, there are concerns around the site's proximity to a conversation area and its archaeological potential.