THE chairman of a pressure group which acts as “protectors of the North Yorks Moors” has said that he will fight to stop a mine being built within the national park
Tom Chadwick, chairman of the North Yorkshire Moors Association, says he has the backing of the Campaign for National Parks, which possesses a “fighting fund” that can be used to battle any development plans.
He said: “Our main objection, written into our constitution, is to protect the moors. If you take that as our purpose then a potash mine does not fit.
“We know they’ve found a lot of polyhalite and we have absolutely no objection to potash being mined underneath the Yorkshire moors.
“What we object to is a major industrial intrusion in the national park.”
Mr Chadwick acknowledged that Sirius Minerals intend to make the minehead impact the visual environment as little as possible, but with such a huge industrial site, he added that it will be impossible to hide entirely.
He said: “If you dig two mine shafts, 12m in diameter to a depth of 1,600metres then you’re talking about a million cubic metres of uncompacted material. That would fill a football field to a height of 300 feet.”
Due to transportation costs, the company would have no option but to dispose of this spoilage nearby, within the national park.
Mr Chadwick described other potential eyesores: “Even if you haven’t got the processing plant like at Boulby, you’ve still got the minehead gear, all the pumping equipment, offices, ancillary buildings, roads, storage tanks.
“It’s going to be an enormous industrial site whichever way you look at it - and it’s going to be in the national park.”
Likely sites for the minehead are at Newton House, Langdale Forest or Harwood Dale Forest, where Forestry Commission plantations will be used to disguise the industrial site.
These sites are seen as preferable as they are at the very centre of the potash deposit, but this would mean the building of a pipeline to Teesside, where the processing plant would be located. Land along this route may need to purchased, potentially through compulsory purchase orders, but aside from this Mr Chadwick highlighted the fact that no one has ever built a pipeline of that length to transport polyhalite ore, adding: “A national park is really not the place to be conducting experiments.”
Sirius Minerals have commissioned a team to investigate the feasibility of constructing a mine and are due to report back in March, ahead of a potential planning application later in 2012.
However, Mr Chadwick has fought battles against other proposed potash developments in the past, such as the failed project to build a refinery beside Eskdale School in 1978, and he said that any development should consider the cost to the environment and the community ahead of the cost to the company.
He added: “This isn’t just a done deal, but that’s the impression that people have.
“A national park has two statutory obligations. One is to conserve and enhance the landscape, the other is to preserve it for the enjoyment of the people”
Check out next Friday’s Gazette for more from our conversation with Mr Chadwick, where he discussed the effects a new potash mine may have on the local economy.