Mine location revealed

An artist's impression of how the mine will appear'submitted image
An artist's impression of how the mine will appear'submitted image

THE location of a new potash mine near Whitby has today been announced, along with detailed plans of how the site will appear.

Sirius Minerals are set to apply for permission to build the state-of-the-art facility on a 100-hectare site beside the B1416 Sneaton Lane, near the Littlebeck and Falling Foss junction.

Chris Fraser, managing director and CEO of Sirius, said: “From the outset of the York Potash Project we have said we can develop a world-leading, state-of-the-art potash mine in an unobtrusive way. Our proposed location and design concepts show what would be a relatively simple concept to construct, but with one of the world’s most innovative approaches to low impact mine design.”

Once constructed, estimates suggest that the mine may be in operation for over 140 years, such is the extent and quality of deposits sitting below the surface.

Two plots currently occupy the site, Dove’s Nest Farm and the Haxby Plantation, and a spokesperson for Sirius said the location had been chosen as it was at the centre of the highest-quality deposits, but also has excellent transport links despite remaining isolated - only seven other dwellings are located within a kilometre of the site.

The developed area will cover around 4.5 hectares, where around 700 people will be employed as part of the direct mine operations.

However, the company insist that industrial structures will be hidden by constructing them below the surface or disguising them as agricultural buildings.

An administrative building and visitor centre will also be located on the site, but the entire 100-hectare compound will be hidden by a huge bank of trees.

Construction of the mine will take two to three years, although it will be 10 years before the mine reaches full capacity.

At this point the mine is expected to produce around 14.2 million tons of polyhalite each year, as opposed to 5 million tons when production begins.

Over a 50-year period this should generate royalty payments of £1.4bn for the local community, as well as investing £0.3bn through the York Potash Foundation.

The company hopes to alleviate commuter transport by utilising a park and ride system, with Sirius hoping to strike up a partnership with North Yorkshire County Council to utilise the recently-approved scheme for Whitby.

Shifts would consist of around 150 employees, most of whom would be contractually obliged to use the bus service, and contractors would be instructed to use the A171 for access.

Included within the 700 jobs created by the mine will be 150 completely unskilled roles and the spokesperson said: “We will always advertise locally for jobs at first. So if there’s people here with a willingness to work with the right attitude, there’s a job here for you.”

The company now plans to submit a formal planning application before the end of this year.

The North York Moors National Park Authority then has 16 weeks to consider the proposal, and should it be approved work could begin on construction as early as next spring.

Should the national park planning committee decide against the plans, Sirius can appeal or ask for direct approval from the Secretary of State.

However, the spokesperson confirmed they have no contingency plan or other sites identified for a ‘plan B’, so if the application was to be unsuccessful, the project would fail in its entirety.

Prior to submitting the planning application Sirius is undertaking a public consultation period, where they hope to gain feedback from the local population.

A public exhibition has today been launched by Sirius and more information can be found by visiting www.yorkpotash.co.uk, by calling 0845 5438964, or by emailing info@yorkpotash.co.uk

Events are being held at:

Sneaton Village Hall, Thursday 13 September, 12noon to 7.30pm

Sleights Village Hall, Friday 14 September, 12noon to 7.30pm

Pannett Park Art Gallery, Saturday 15 September and Saturday 22 September, 10am to 4pm

Hawsker and Stainsacre Parish Hall, Thursday 20 September, 12noon to 7.30pm

Fylingdales Village Hall, Friday 21 September, 12noon to 7.30pm

For full reaction and details see Friday’s Gazette.