Town council backs potash mine plans

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DESPITE reservations about the potential environmental impact a potash mine near Whitby could have Whitby Town Councillors agreed to give their backing to it.

An extraordinary meeting of the council was held where Peter Woods, a consultant hired by York Potash and Gareth Edmunds, the head of external affairs were on hand to field questions.

They told the meeting plans were being helped along by old records put together by Rio Tinto – a company which explored the possibility of opening a potash mine in the late 1960s but mothballed it when the international price of potash fell.

Had York Potash had to start compiling this data from scratch it would have cost them around £100 million.

Mr Edmunds said potentially there could be activity on site by 2013 if plans are submitted towards the end of next year.

He added there could be 1,000 direct mining jobs, 1,500 construction jobs and 4,000 jobs created in the supply chain.

But, Coun Niall Carson said: “It is a huge scheme and not on the scale of anything we have seen before.

“We also have Dogger Bank windfarm proposals served out of Whitby. There is always a lot going on and to hear we are the next biggest commodity is worrying.

“There will be advantages and jobs, I don’t know how many will be actually to Whitby people and houses we will have to build, how much effect it will have on schools, hospitals.

“We know Boulby Mine goes down about a mile and under the earth for about five miles – that makes a mine head very immobile.”

But Coun Heather Coughlan said it was the same people that complained about the removal of the golf balls from RAF Fylingdales that complained about them being put there in the first place.

She added: “I can’t believe we are talking about if it comes. Bring it on. Whitby needs it.”

Mayor of Whitby Coun John Freeman said he was generally in favour of the good that could come from the proposals but concerned about the potential environmental impact.

He added: “I feel quite comfortable with the feeling that we are going to look seriously at the impact on the area.

“The proof of the pudding will come a bit later on when you see you could cut a million and that is when the gloves may have to come off but hopefully we can keep the gloves on.”