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NYMNPA Potash Public Meeting – Helmsley [Part 1]

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NYMNPA Potash Public Meeting – Helmsley [Part 1]

  • the first installment of a 2-Part report on the North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority Public Consultation Meeting regarding the York Potash proposals, held at 6:30pm on Tuesday 19th March 2013, as reported by Vandal Inman. [Part 2 tomorrow].


It is not often that the Labour Party get a round of applause, but Diana Jeuda managed to get one on the Labour Party’s behalf at last night’s Public Consultation meeting, held in Helmsley, by the North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority, regarding the York Potash Planning Application.

I certainly did not agree with everything she said, but she had a lot to say; much in favour of the promised jobs that the proposed mine would create. I say ‘promised’ jobs, because the presentation explaining the ’weighting‘ value (to York Potash’s declaration that 434 jobs at the mine increasing to 706 by 2024) could not be assessed because “there were no details to back up the promises of jobs nor the training and job opportunities, there was no details of the current local workforce available, so without these details there was not the information needed for a weighting to be given”.

And so Diana Jeuda gave out a ‘telling off, because documents she had downloaded from the NYMNPA website had given her and the Whitby Labour Party the information they needed to form an opinion to support the project. So why could they not weight this!?

This was no Vicar of Dibley meeting:   

But, it is perhaps best to go back to the Dibley beginning;  Rob Bailey was Chair, Chris France and Mark Hill were present, on behalf of the NYMNPA, and a representative from AMEC was there for the technical bit. Chris France set out the framework of the duties and responsibilities of the Authority under PINS rules, explaining that all Members of the Park Authority were also members of the Planning Committee.

The processing and de-watering and hydration plant and portside facility in Teesside would be dealt with by a separate Authority, most likely the NPI.  There was to be a Committee site-visit to the proposed mine-head on May 3rd, and decision-making Planning Committee meeting  on 21st May, which was most likely to be held at Raven Hall at 1.30pm – “near where the action is” –  and for public attendance.

The Secretary of State could be called in at any time to take over the Planning Decision at the request of a third party. That third party could be a member of the public, local group or authority. A written letter to the Secretary of State would trigger that request, and the decision process could then take up to 6 months.

One wondered if this was a ‘please do so’ suggestion, rather than a statement.

Chris France then said he could only state the facts known at the moment, and that much more information was needed. Starting with the visual impact: a slide-show giving various angles of how the site was proposed to look, the site would be 205m above sea level, offering 100 years of polyhalite extraction, with a 3 to 4 year construction process. The main building would be 2,397sq.m., with a height of 13m, with the sunken mine-shaft facility described as “huge great big sunken chambers”. For this there would be 600,000 cubic meters of excavated spoil.

Within this area would be a crushing chamber, crushing the polyhalite to 2 mm grains, ready to be mixed in brine to be transported via the pipeline. The buildings would be covering these procedures, of “extensive subterranean works”.

  • These buildings would be industrial-scale buildings, not farm buildings, equivalent to the size of six Tesco superstores, that is a fact.

There would be a relatively small car park and heliport. The shaft-spoil of 600,000 cubic meters would be forming bunds around the site, over 40hs; the visual impact will be changed substantially.

A question was asked if there was a limit on how high the bunds would be and would the buildings be visible from roadside. We were told that the bunds would be up to 10 meters high, and Chris France said he did not know what that would look like.

There would also be a support building of 3,000sq.m. These buildings would be constructed using rocks excavated from the shaft construction using a cage system. “One of the frustrations was that a lot of information about what was to be beneath the buildings was not available”.

The shafts would need some back-filling to be secure, and “there would be substantial earth works on and around the site, with blending and crushing equipment underground.”

With reference to the wider Public Consultation, Chris France said that most of the letters in support of the Project were from shareholders, following a letter sent out by York Potash.  The weighting of objections against letters of support would be based on the significance of planning matters only.  It was not a case of a show of hands.

With reference to the holding objections, these were mainly focused on what was happening underground particularly with regards to hydrology, the underground water system and drainage that fed into the River Esk … “ a very very sensitive landscape below the surface where we get our water supplies” providing water to both Whitby and Scarborough.

Chris France confirmed that York Potash “did not consider the MoD” (with its initial application documents 4th Feb, I presume). “There was a meeting with the MoD, York Potash and the Park Authority yesterday (18th)”.

The MoD’s main concerns were about the vibration blasts affecting “the most sensitive radars in the world”, that were put there “because of the seismic safe area” (Fylingdales).

Chirs France also reported that concerns included the “innovative nature of the project” followed by a “we know what state the national economy is in at the moment”.

In making a determination of “the largest planning application the Park has ever received”, the same rules would apply as for, say, a porch – these being Section 38 (6) 2004 of the Development Plan. Looking wider, they were legally bound to make a decision within the remits of that Plan.

Under the Local Development Framework 2008 Core Policy E: Minerals and the Major Development Test of NPPF Para 116 of the National Planning Framework , Chris France stated that the application should be refused. “Not a very good start”.

But looking further at “exceptional circumstances”, even though the Park already has a Potash Mine Para 144 + 143 + Annex 2, “has caused much tension, the application is very complex, whilst interesting and challenging.”

Mark Hill then took over the presentation, for a 15-minute slot – ‘Minerals’; apportioning weighting to “several thousand sheets of information”, the first issue was; why not outside of the National Park?

A slide showing faults in the area of Cloughton showed many faults to the South; howeve,r none to the North. The Mining Inspectorate recommends that no mine shaft be built within 100m of fault lines. The Park Authority were still asking York Potash why the mine-shaft could not be placed outside of the National Park Area in Cloughton.

With regard to sustainability there were some key issues;

  • is the mine needed (to meet UK requirements)?
  • what are the economic benefits?
  • what are the implications for Boulby?
  • What will be the impact on Tourism?

Mark Hill said they were still trying to get to grips with the issue of ‘need’.  The economic figures given by Sirius were a big consideration – “but how does it sit in context? There were no details to give weight to that issue”.

With regard to Boulby, York Potash are claiming they are mining a different product. But both were about Potassium. “Are these additional jobs at the expense of wiping out other jobs?”

The impact on Tourism issue had been very down-played. York Potash do not feel that it will have a significant impact, but the Park Authority see Tourism as being a big issue. It is a public recreational park, not an industrial park. Tourism brings in over £10M(?) annually to the local economy. The project will “have quite a modest impact”.  Further, Mark Hill expressed concerns over issues regarding the environment and ecology, hydrology, noise and vibration.  “They are not just building a house, 3 years of construction could put off repeat visitors.” That said, “Five years of pain for 95 years of gain had to be considered.”

A full Environmental Impact Assessment will look at the overall project including the pipeline.

With regards to jobs, 434 at the mine, 706 by 2024, Mark Hill said, “With no details to back up these promises of training and opportunities, and no knowledge of the local workforce how will this be achieved in order to give a weighting?”

NB: The YPA Foundation was not part of the application.

Whilst housing developments in Scalby and Cloughton could benefit from well-paid employees, how would this impact on other housing areas?  Again, no details. The Mineral Rights Payments said to be worth up to £1billion to the local economy, again had to be looked at. Much of this could go abroad, but the benefits of taxation were mentioned and again no details.

To sum up, Mark Hill said there were three main issues:

  • The practicability/buildabilty of such an innovative design, the Park were consulting with AMEC,
  • The impacts of hydrology and hydrogeology and drain construction (the water supply for Whitby and Scarborough as well as the pipeline cutting through various underwater supplies and underneath the River Esk were a big issue),
  • A concern that a further application would be submitted if York Potash could not build as per the current design plans.

Mark Hill asked, “Do the economic and social benefits outweigh the harmful environmental impact? We do not need traffic congestion, particularly on Blue Bank. There is a lack of transport proposals, and construction traffic-movement is not provided for. The construction of accommodation for 300 units at Whitby Business Park is not detailed. The pipeline, a significant project in itself, is expected to operate for over 100 years but the guarantee is only for 35 years.  Will it need replacing in whole or localised repairs?”

Mark Hill added, “We have made requests for further information on; below ground structures; hydrology; construction plan; geological information; vibration impacts for the MoD., and we have been asking for this information for nearly two years”.

With regard to the MoD, the two shafts need explosions to construct, and, with tunnel heights of up to 20m, there may be long-term subsidence.

Mark Hill summed up: ”We are legally required to carry out a ‘vigorous assessment’.”  To include A Potash Market Study – is there a need?; a Second Purpose Study – the impacts; and with the help of AMEC, who are carrying out the EIA an assessment, on need over environment.

We also have to ask “Do exceptional circumstances exist? Is it in the Public Interest? This is a difficult decision to make. That decision is based on the best information we can get.”

This meeting at Helmsley was the last Public Consultation meeting where the public were encouraged to ask questions; there would be a thirty minute presentation before taking questions from the floor.

PART 2 – The Q & A session – to follow tomorrow.     


Related reading:

Potash articles


Posted by on March 20, 2013. Filed under Featured,News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

16 Responses to NYMNPA Potash Public Meeting – Helmsley [Part 1]

  1. secretsqu Reply

    March 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Vanda, a very detailed report.

    Thank you for taking the time to post.

  2. J Chapman Reply

    March 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    “Vandal” Inman?

    I have complained about Ms Inman’s mischievous disinformation in the past but this name change shows an unexpected degree of self-awareness.

    It might be worth adding that Sirius have indeed been in dialogue with the MoD prior to the submission of their planning application. While they are confident that the blasting would not affect the radar station, they have stated in their submitted documents that real-world proof of this can only come from site-specific blast testing – which can’t be carried out before planning permission is granted and should therefore form a condition of planning permission.

    • Stakesby Legs Reply

      March 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      You are SO out of the loop, JC. Really.

      • J Chapman Reply

        March 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        Unlike some here, I have actually read the full planning application portfolio.

  3. Gary Ludlow Reply

    March 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Not a hope in hell, Sell your shares, SELL SELL SELL..
    Can you imagine the damage caused to this area. It cannot possibly be managed or calculated. Can you imagine the damage caused by such a pipeline to Teesside, all the small intricate, delicate waterways hacked through…….ecology not even glanced at and NYMNP are already considering a planning application! It is an absolute none starter. It is not about jobs for our children locally, this cannot possibly be any justification for a bloody GIANT mine in a National Park. When I was young, ie when I reached school leaving age in Whitby, I got off my backside and left the area for work and life experience.
    How could anyone in the mining business be so inexperienced as to not consider the MOD site!
    These people are chance-ers out to make a quick buck at the expense of all concerned including the environment and the National Park, it’s all about a PLC, where shares are freely sold to members of the public. The National Park is to be protected, protected so as all those future generations of people who work in such mines, or have such mines on their doorsteps, can come to the National Park and escape, their ear drums stand still for once in their life, their peripheral vision like long eye yawns as they gaze over the landscape. So tell me, who is going to want to escape to this area of the National Park in this corner of the United Kingdom in the future? Every single engine from helicopters to that of a lorry driving by is additional noise pollution that would not ordinarily exist, times that by millions and times that by 100 years, immeasurable………. Only the naive in the National Park Authority could have allowed the planning to reach this stage, only the naive in the National Park Authority could have allowed SBC Councillor and land-owner Tim Thorne to have guided them this far down the line. Silly, gullible buggers………
    (Chris France of The National Park Authority
    In making a determination of “the largest planning application the Park has ever received”, the same rules would apply as for, say, a porch – these being Section 38 (6) 2004 of the Development Plan. Looking wider, they were legally bound to make a decision within the remits of that Plan.)
    What does that mean, as long as York Potash used single glazing and the correct colour then it should go through no problem! As long as the Helecopter Landing Pad used Farrow & Ball colour schemes and the helicopters were single glazed as they blasted around approaching the mine whilst showing off the National Park beneath…..even though Chris France asked them to not to…..
    I wonder who was in negotiation when the Park & Ride proposal was pushed through and what monies were paid to local land owners…………
    You really couldn’t make any of this up.
    A planning of this magnitude, a planning decision of this magnitude by professionals, would take ten years, ten years of very detailed drawings and ecological studies of every little stream and excavation necessary. That’s what’s missing, all the detail as requested by Chris France before any consideration………. Concentrate on good rail links to York thereby opening links to the rest of the UK if you want to see real investment locally and for tourism to flourish in the future at a sustainable level.
    But not Tim Thorne and the NYMNP employees who also sit on the planning committee, oh no, they just float the lot on the Stock Exchange.
    SELL SELL SELL and hurry………
    Are you sure this is not just one MASSIVE SCAM?

    • Tom Brodrick Reply

      March 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      Does Mr Ludlow mean Tim Lawn, not Tim Thorne?

      • Matt W Reply

        March 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm

        Tom – Why let facts like someone’s proper name get in the way of Gary’s Great Conspiracy Theory?

        He’s sounds like one of those bored housewives from middle America who claims to have been probed by Aliens. Let him rant, it’s entertaining.

  4. Don't Shaft It Reply

    March 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Great write up. Thanks. I’m looking forward to Part 2.

  5. Richard Ineson Reply

    March 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    A well balanced, thorough and very informative report of the meeting. I think that most aspects of the application seem to have been covered, and various discrepancies, such as the 100 year life span of the mine but only 30 year life span of the pipeline, calculation of job opportunities,the actual demand for the potash, the height of the bunds, the size of the buildings, the impact on tourism, etc. acknowledged. There is much water to run under the bridge,I feel sure that the NYMNPA would like to pass the final decision on to the government.

  6. Tom Brodrick Reply

    March 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    IN MY VIEW…… This talk of a mine in the National Park needs much much more reasoned and seasoned debate and lets face it, the Secretary of State will be the decision maker, so the sooner they become involved the better. Vandal Inman has contributed a great deal of time and effort therefore deserves some thanks. But lets face it, the Whitby Labour Party only consists of perhaps five people who contribute so let’s not get too carried away with a political slant and Labour back slapping.
    Why not just thank Sirius for the find and leave the Polyhalite where it is.
    Fylingdales will not be there forever, new technologies and a change in weapons technology………… it will eventually become obsolete.
    Until that day treat the Polyhalite discovery as a natural commodity, a valuable national resource that will only grow in value and importance as the decades roll by.
    A valuable natural resource that would provide the UK with it’s own nutrition for it’s own food supply in REAL times of need, perhaps even 50, 100…..200 years down the line. As well as a little to go as exports for financial income into the UK as a nation. Not a handful of investors.
    The days of individual people claiming ownership of everything beneath their feet because they quite literally gave a few quid for a piece of land in today’s world is ludicrous.
    Ludicrous, as everything beneath the earths surface on Sovereign Soil / Territory, should belong to the nation and mined as a National Interest.
    Bank it for future generations and leave it exactly where it is, until we are literally desperate for it ourselves.
    Not to do so is madness, mining it will make a handful of people very rich, this as a capitalist project is the only reason why the Polyhalite would be mined. It is only the money that is of real interest, not selfless concern for the well being of others.
    This idea of it being necessary to grow produce to feed the world in its ever-expanding population is just an ill thought out smokescreen. Population control will eventually become a reality, the availability of water will become a much greater concern.
    China is investing in Africa, Nepal, India, and Pakistan at an alarming rate for all the obvious reasons, yet there are a few individuals who are willing to quite literally give away this tremendously valuable national asset.
    It’s not like fishing stocks that can replenish themselves with careful management.
    It does not need to be mined, once its gone it cannot ever be replaced, think about it. How will this mining project be viewed 50, 100…………..200 years down the line.
    If there is ever a capitalist project needed in this area, a good sound investment, it is a rail link to York.
    Why mine the Polyhalite all at once? Mine some and bank the rest. Who would possibly be against such a proposal?
    If there is ever a case for true altruism then any profit from the mining of the Polyhalite should be used to provide such a rail link. Leading to real growth, real income to many people and who knows, new schools, social housing projects, a modern hospital.
    That will enrich this whole area, tourism, the arts, provide much needed jobs and growth and as a capitalist project be a good sound long term investment.
    This could easily be made to happen if the people involved were not so selfless. A true private / national initiative that would lead to many benefits, and much needed inward investment to the area.
    Just random thoughts…….

  7. secretsqu Reply

    March 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    very random.

  8. secretsqu Reply

    March 20, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    @Tim Thorne…just for you…from somebody else that attended the meeting…

    “Subject of “Void spaces” was put to bed. YP have NO PLANS to use the void spaces other than to use as space to get rid of any future spoil from any holes they may dig if the need arises to increase crushing capacity. It was made very clear that if YP did want to use voids for any other purpose they would have to apply for planning permission, which of course would receive the attention it deserved.”

    Mind you I’m sure that you will carry on regardless.

    Vanda, surprised that you never mentioned this.

    • Tim Thorne Reply

      March 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      “Subject of “Void spaces” was put to bed.”

      Er, no. Not even close.

  9. secretsqu Reply

    March 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    @Vanda, it just occurred to me that this may be part of your Q&A tomorrow, so ignore my comment for now.

  10. admin Reply

    March 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I would just like to thank Vanda for taking the time to go along and report back to us. A lot of time and effort has gone into this. Not for the first time Vanda has made sure your all informed and has given you something to discuss.

    • J Chapman Reply

      March 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      A nice way to thank her would be to stop calling her “Vandal”.

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