THE announcement of the mine’s design and location has changed nothing, according to one campaigner who is fighting for the mine to be built outside the national park.
However, Tom Chadwick, chair of the North Yorkshire Moors Association, has been criticised for providing “misinformation” about the potential harm a mine in the national park could cause.
Mr Chadwick, of Castleton, has said that although the design does appear sympathetic to the environment, the pressure group’s core concern remains - that no large-scale industrial projects should take place within the national park.
“The whole purpose of our existence is to protect and enhance the characteristic beauty of the moors for present and future generations,” he said. “We’re opposed to any unnecessary development in the park, and when they say ‘it’s got to be in the national park’, that’s b*llocks.”
While Doves Nest Farm is located close to the centre of the mineral deposits, he said the minehead could be located outside of the North Yorks Moors - where a large proportion of the polyhalite shelf is still found - and the company could tunnel underground back into the national park, preserving the integrity of the surface.
He added: “They’ve determined the mine head has got to be at the centre of the minerals. That’s entirely because of convenience and cost to the company, it’s nothing to do with environmental concerns. They don’t have to have it there and they shouldn’t do it in a national park.”
Instead, Mr Chadwick (pictured insert) asked whether a mine could be placed outside of the national park and closer to population centres. He said: “If this is only going to look like agricultural buildings and park land it could go anywhere, it could even go in Pannett Park. Except of course what they say is if it’s too near residents it becomes an industrial horror. Why is this the case outside a national park but not in it?”
However, while Mr Chadwick’s commitment to preserving the national park is admirable, statements he has made have been called into question by Sirius Minerals, who fear they could damage the project.
For example, Mr Chadwick said that initial mine plans were abandoned due to health and safety issues and a press release from the Moors Association reads: “Problems have been identified centred around the provision for emergency winding gear and the inclined tunnels and this relates to early talks with the Mines Inspectorate.”
However, a representative of the Mines Inspectorate refuted this claim, stating that they have not been involved in any investigation, and there has never been concerns relating to York Potash’s proposal.
This week’s announcement highlighted that the mine design has changed to an alternative plan, but a spokesperson for Sirius Minerals added that this was a result of listening to residents’ concerns, and the new proposals will reduce the amount of spoilage created.
The spokesperson said: “This was a regrettable claim made without any reference to the facts, so it’s great that the Whitby Gazette has taken the time to get an accurate view from the Mines Inspectorate.
“We’re pleased that the statement has now been retracted and we look forward to consulting on our innovative designs that can bring so many benefits to the local area.
“Our previous offers to the North Yorkshire Moors Association to meet, understand the facts and have a constructive input to the plans remain open.”