The stated purposes of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority are:
“To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and culture of the National Park.
To promote opportunities of understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of those areas by the public”.
“And in doing so the Authority has a duty to seek and foster the economic and social well- being of local communities within the National Park”
These aims also form part of the Major Development Test.
The first statement is being fulfilled adequately by the Authority. It could be argued that the one of the special qualities of the area is the fact that it covers a substantial amount of a valuable product, namely potash. By allowing this mineral to be mined it also could be said that the Authority is seeking to encourage the economic and social well-being of the people who live in the National Park (A large proportion of the people who currently work in the only potash mine in the UK at Boulby live in the National Park).
The National Park covers some 554 square miles (355,000 acres). The buildings associated with the proposed new potash mine will only occupy a few acres at Red Gate. So although this project can be classed as a major development it does not cover an extensive area. The chosen site may be in open countryside but it will be concealed by trees, some newly planted, and it will not be readily visible. While mine buildings are under construction there will be increased traffic on local roads. Thereafter, with the ore being transported underground, traffic will revert to normal. So far York Potash has made every endeavour to comply with the conditions of work imposed on them by legal and local requirements while assessing the extent of the potash ore. I can see no reason why they will not comply with any future conditions in developing the mine.
York Potash are certainly not philanthropists, they are part of a well established company who are making sure that; firstly, the ore is extracted and transported safely and securely; secondly, in doing so they will be employing local people in an area which needs employment, particularly for youngsters; and thirdly, a specific fund will be established to benefit the local area. The deposits of potash already established in the Whitby-Scarborough area are considerable, some 2,200 million tonnes. This compares well with the largest known deposits in Canada of 4,400 million tonnes (not 4,400,000 million tonnes as quoted in the letter by Dr A J Houghton-Moss – Whitby Gazette Friday 25 January 2013). By mining this ore two outcomes will be satisfied. One, the UK need not rely on any imported potash products and so could be entirely independent. Secondly, a valuable product can be exported, so helping with the nation’s balance of payments.
Historically the Yorkshire Moors have been mined for ore of various kinds and the remnants of the workings can still be seen today – protected by the Parks Authority! One of the first operational railways in Yorkshire, incorporated by the “Whitby and Pickering Railway” in 1833, was built to transport locally mined iron ore and limestone – the route of the original track is still in use today. The creation of this enterprise was the salvation of Whitby as a commercial harbour. The general public will still come to North Yorkshire because it has so much to offer and enjoy. Many who come will never have heard of Boulby Mine, much less go and see it. Future visitors may never become aware of “Red Gate” and will not even be aware of its location.
A large number of people welcome this exciting new potash venture. The long term benefits both locally and nationally will soon become apparent. The quicker it comes into being the better.
Kit Sismey, Homestead Cottage, Egton, by email