Peter Frank’s letter “Great confidence trick over new potash mine” causes me to ask him a few questions.
1. He infers that “the people of Whitby” are falling for the alleged confidence trick, and that he is not. On what evidence is this based?
2. How does he know that the “so-called test drilling sites” are not really drilling, but are put there to “psychologically condition the locals” Peter is a local, so if it isn’t conditioning him, why should it work on the rest of us?
3. Have any locals complained to him about the “beacon-like” rig lighting? The only comments I have heard are that these sites add some interest to our surroundings. As for the wildlife, birds are often attracted to the warmth of drill sites.
4. How does he know that the project will “ destroy the environs of a vast area of Whitby”? Some years ago, due to conditions laid down by government and local authorities, BP built and operated an oil production site at Wytche Farm in Poole Harbour, Dorset, and no-one could see, or knew much about, what was going on. This site is in an SSSI, on a World Heritage coastline! All who protested beforehand and tried to have it stopped were proved wrong.
5. How are big landowners “prostituting themselves”? How are they different to anyone else who is fortunate enough to come into money?
6. Why will small property owners “have their property values blighted for many years”? Did that happen with Boulby? Or did the increased wealth of the area actually raise values?
7. On what evidence can he say that any property “undermined” will risk subsidence? To the best of my knowledge Boulby has not caused subsidence, and the new mine will be much deeper than Boulby.
8. How does he know that “the new mine will consume 1,000 acres”. I didn’t think that the planning had got that far and I would expect development controls to keep it much smaller.
9. Why does he assume that 20,000 tons per day will be “trundling past” some people’s homes? Again the planning has not got this far, and the product might be exported by being piped away as a slurry or in solution.
Then to answer Peter’s own questions.
1. Who gave this company with little or no experience in this activity, the right to our minerals? I assume the government, because the production of potash will generate huge revenues for the treasury, provide employment, and will mostly go to making fertiliser now essential to feed the world’s population. As for lack of experience, all the necessary experience will be bought in where necessary. This is how business men operate. Did Richard Branson have experience of all of the multitude of businesses he has kicked off?
2. How soon will Boulby mine be closed? The new mine should not affect Boulby production because there is a serious world shortage of potash.
3. How many people holiday and wish to live in and around Boulby Mine? Lots actually, Staithes for example.
I look forward to Peter’s response.
Keith Sleightholme, Aislaby. (no connection with the developers), by email