Local payments from the company behind the development of Woodsmith Mine towards protecting and enhancing the environment, developing skills, supporting tourism and increasing rail provision, have reached £5 million – just two years after its construction commenced in May 2017.
The contributions to North York Moors National Park Authority, North Yorkshire County Council and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council form part of Sirius Minerals’ planning permission for its new multi-million pound fertilizer mine near Whitby and underground mineral transport system to Teesside.
Measures include annual contributions for landscape and ecology projects, funding towards tourism promotion and an extensive education and skills programme to tackle skills shortages in the area, as well as a major woodland creation programme.
Briony Fox, Director of Conservation and Polyhalite Projects at the National Park, said: “Contributions from Sirius cover a wide variety of elements and have supported an array of new projects in the area.”
“These have included numerous habitat enhancement programmes, planting of over 40,000 trees in 2018 alone, improvements to historic buildings and monuments and upgrades to over 20km of public footpaths.”
“This will increase year on year, and in 2019 a further 60,000 trees will be planted as part of a 7,000 hectare woodland creation scheme that will see a total of 10 million new trees. Funding from Sirius is also contributing to the Slowing the Flow project.”
Slowing the Flow is a five-year pilot project to alleviate flood risk by introducing natural management techniques upstream, such as building dams and planting trees. A pair of Eurasian beavers have been released in an enclosed area in Cropton Forest to assess how they can assist with maintaining the manmade structures and create their own wetland habitats to slow the flow of water and reduce flooding risk.
In addition to environmental programmes, Sirius is also funding a 10-year education and skills programme across North Yorkshire and the Tees Valley. This includes a £1 million programme to promote science, technology, engineering and maths in local schools that has already engaged 8,000 young people over the last year.
Funding is also going towards schemes that improve the job prospects of people across the area including Scarborough Jobmatch and Construction Skills Village, and East Cleveland Training and Employment Hub. Since its launch in February 2018, the Hub has worked with 700 people, resulting in 245 securing a job with a wide range of companies including Sirius Minerals and its contractors.
Matt Parsons, External Affairs General Manager for Sirius said: “Our project will operate in the area for many years to come and we are committed to being a positive part of the local community. In addition to our own efforts to boost employment and skills, and support for community projects through the Sirius Minerals Foundation, it is great to see our funding to local authorities being put to such good use.”
“We are delighted that students and people seeking work are already benefitting, that a wide range of environmental projects have already been delivered for residents and visitors to enjoy, and that work is on track to increase rail services between Whitby and Middlesbrough.”
Sirius Minerals’ project involves the construction of two 1,600m mineshafts near Whitby, connected to a 23 mile transportation tunnel to a processing plant and port at Teesside. It is expected to deliver 1,000 long-term, high-skilled, high wage jobs once fully operational.