Submission of potash planning application is delayed further

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Submission of plans for the proposed potash mine on the outskirts of Whitby have been delayed yet again - this time by a further two months.

York Potash announced this week, via parent company Sirius Minerals, it will coincide plans for the mine along with a separate application for the underground system which would transport potash from the mine to a processing plant in Teesside.

Both applications will now be put forward in September.

The planning application for the mine head, earmarked for Doves Nest Farm at Sneatonthorpe, will be submitted to the North York Moors National Park planning authority while plans for the mineral transport system (MTC) will go to Redcar and Cleveland.

Sirius says the change in timescale won’t affect construction dates should permission be granted but claim that submitting the two documents simultaneously will make the decision making process more straightforward.

It will also allow extra time to iron out further environmental and planning concerns highlighted by the National Park including the impact construction will have on the landscape and tourism, demand for the product itself and scope for the development to take place outside the park.

Chris Fraser, Sirius’ managing director, said: “We have had productive and wide-ranging pre-application engagement with the authority officers and advisers over the past nine to 12 months and aligning the submissions should make the process more straightforward and therefore it is beneficial to all parties.

“We believe this is the most productive way forward, particularly as this doesn’t impact the overall project schedule. In the meantime, the common ground we have reached with the authority officers provides very clear guidance as to the detail that the applications need to include at the point of submission.”

Plans have already been withdrawn previously, in July of last year, but the deferral had allowed for a better quality of submission, Mr Fraser exclusively told the Gazette at one of a series of public consultations being held last week.

He conceded that the mineral transport system, like an underground conveyor belt, and the construction impact were the two key issues being raised by the public.

He said: “With the pipeline we would have had a working width that looked like a motorway. With the MTS the main issues were about design and dealing with the failure risk but it came out of just not accepting that we persevere with the pipeline system.

“The story of why we hadn’t thought of it before is like why we hadn’t invented the iPad before - we would have had them five years ago otherwise.”

The impact of the construction site and whether its neighbours will be able to see and hear it was also a main issue raised at last week’s sessions.

Mr Fraser added: “The general feedback is positive. Not everybody can be pleased with what we are doing, as is always the case, but most points have been positive.

“The vast majority of comments are ‘hurry up and get on with it’, with which we wholeheartedly agree, but we have to get it right.”