Biased reporting by the Whitby Gazette

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Reading the headline article on the proposed potash development reminds me of the saying about tabloid journalism “Never let the truth get in the way of a good headline”.

The Whitby Gazette’s breathtakingly biased reporting is littered with errors and serious omissions.

If the whole of this “exclusive” interview with the Chief Executive Officer of Sirius Minerals was carried out without the National Park being mentioned then this reflects badly on the CEO and on the reporter who failed to mention the most contentious aspect of this proposal.

The term North York Moors National Park does not appear once in an article extending to over 1200 words.

It suggests that neither the Whitby Gazette or York Potash Ltd give a damn about one of the most cherished assets of North Yorkshire.

The article goes on to quote Chris Fraser as saying, “lack of information promotes the opportunity for speculation and we don’t think this is helpful”.

Neither is it helpful that YPL put out information which is littered with factual errors and obfuscation.

To quote one example, the screening application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) for the pipeline clearly states that it is an application for four 750mm pipes to be laid from somewhere South of Whitby to Teesside.

However in the so-called Detailed Scoping Study (DSS) this has changed to two 600mm pipes, in engineering terms a serious change in specification.

It may end up not conforming to either of these descriptions because the DSS also suggests that the polyhalite may be transported as a dry mineral so that it can be shipped directly out for processing to the Middle East, clearly a favoured option because the high energy bill for processing can be reduced by 25%.

Another example can be found in the screening application to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in which the North Yorkshire Moors Association are quoted as consultants on seabed subsidence.

I assure you that we are not consultants.

The facts are that this proposed development has to go through the planning process and is not as many people have been led to believe, a done deal.

Sirius Minerals is an exploration company with no track record of mining anywhere in the world.

It is an embryonic mining company dwarfed by the major players in the world.

It is a company which requires planning permission in order to raise the capital costs initially of $2.7 billion.

The development in North Yorkshire is the only project that Sirius Minerals have and it is based on untried technology which amounts to an industrial scale experiment in a National Park.

Tom Chadwick, Chairman, North Yorkshire Moors Association by email