THE PARISH council closest to the proposed potash mine has refused to sign a letter offering their support for the development.
As the project gains pace, following the submission of draft pipeline plans and the appointment of a new development director, York Potash has circulated a draft letter of support to all the parish councils in the area, asking them to formally declare their support.
The mine is set to be constructed within the parish boundaries of Sneaton, but this means most of that parish’s councillors have a vested interest in the project and so a special dispensation was required through the Localism Act 2011 before they could even discuss it.
At the council’s meeting last Wednesday, Sneaton residents took part in a heated debate, and chairman Mike Shardlow concluded: “We have had an exchange of views and I think it’s healthy.”
With around 300 residents, Coun Shardlow added that the parish council was in no position to sign York Potash’s draft letter of support: “As a council we can’t just go willy-nilly supporting York Potash on their demands. I don’t agree with the letter. We are representing our residents and some of them don’t support it.”
Coun Rose Stainthorpe said she was worried the draft letter was “very misleading” as it mentions a small selection of benefits from the site, including the creation of jobs, but York Potash were then using this to say that each council who signed the letter supported the development as a whole.
One set of residents who had serious concerns about the impact of the mine upon their home and business are Jack and Steph Newman, of Falling Foss Tea Gardens.
Mr Newman said he was concerned about the impact of the mine upon tourism.
He said: “Potash believe the tourism is Flamingoland and the [North Yorkshire Moors] Railway, it’s the only tourism they mention in the whole of the application.
“We actually support York Potash, we just don’t think it should be in that location, it shouldn’t be in the National Park.”
With the construction of the £1.7bn mine set to take around four years, Mrs Newman said she was concerned that the increase in traffic and heavy machinery could seriously damage their business.
“It’s enormous, it’s massive, but it’s four years in the making,” she said.
“People come to us because they have an hour spare and want to come walk and their dog.
“We are going to lose them because they are not going to want to sit in traffic.”
The owners of Doves Nest Farm, where the mine will be constructed, Kevin and Sylvia Roache, also attended the meeting.
Mrs Roache said instead of reducing the number of people wanting to visit the area, her holiday lettings business was thriving.
She said: “I have had lots of support from everybody, they think it’s brilliant.”
However, Mrs Newman added that she did not think this surge would last.
She explained: “People at the moment are very nosy and curious but I don’t think for a minute that is going to continue for four years, throughout the construction of the site.”