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NYMNPA/POTASH Public Meeting – Helmsley, 19th March [Part 2]
– Part 2 of Vanda Inman’s full 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. [Part 1 available here].
PART II: The Q’s & A’s
Q1 – Regarding the Spoil, does the Bund have a height limit? (CF – Yes, a maximum of 10m). Will you still see the buildings?
CF – (Chris France; NYMNPA) There will be more of a visual impact – further assessment is being asked for.
Q2 – If this planning is given, once in, what is to stop them coming back for an easier and cheaper building design? Would they have to go through the full planning process again?
MH – (Mark Hill; NYMNPA) I don’t know about that, but I assume a following application would receive the same attention.
CF – I can give reassurances, and so would any of the members. (That a further application would receive the same attention)
MH – Another Boulby Mine (design) in the Park in the 21st Century is not tenable.
Q3 – What happens if the NYMPA approve but the Pipeline does not meet approval?
MH – This issue has already been raised with our legal team. York Potash will have to wait until the last consent is in place before construction starts. A linking arrangement is in place (between planning authorities).
Q4 – There are no details of the winding-gear, the pumping station, etc, etc, it is totally astonishing the amount of details that have not been submitted. Is this application premature? What is the Feasibility Study? There are no details, surely it should have been done before the application went in? The feasibility study is due to be completed in the last quarter of 2013? This is a premature application.
MH – The feasibility Study is about details rather than principles. Based on an EIA study laid before. It may change external dimensions. We are waiting for AMEC’s details.
AMEC – A request has been sent to York Potash with a number of questions asking for further information. Regarding the EIA, if any changes, there is a risk of Judicial Review; Reg 22 applies. York Potash are still working on part of it. At this time there is insufficient information for a conclusion to be drawn. The Feasibilty Study could be the marketing of the mineral or maybe related to the mine design. We don’t know.
MH – The Application has to be looked as an entity. So have the pipeline details that have to be submitted.
Q5 – So members do not have all the facts to base a decision?
CF – We have no control of timing. If the Application is called in it could be 6 months. Though the potential is there to be assessed all at once.
Q6 – Is the pipeline new technology? Has it being used before?
CF – Not as a slurry.
AMEC – Not a pipeline expert but structure of the pipeline is not new , but to use saline could be.
Q7 – (Diana Jeuda, WLP) – The pipelining has not been done before, but pipelining is not unusual? We are not competent enough to know the technical details. The big questions are; is it going to work, and is it safe? Should we be digging it out? What are the benefits to local communities?
Diance Jeuda went on to say that she hopes the NYMNPA will make the decision and not the Secretary of State, “you have more local knowledge” . . . Whilst there may be 5 years of disruption, the Mine will bring benefit to local people over the longer term . . .There is much support from young people in Whitby.
Then, to CF – How can you say there is not enough details on the jobs but there is details on your own website? Skills will be available if the jobs are available . . . that is the Labour Party’s view. (Much applause).
CF – There is much more information needed – the negative impact on Tourism, the negative impact on Boulby, it is about getting a balanced argument.
Q8 – What about commercial delivery vehicles? For example at Boulby there was 23 delivery lorries within 2 hrs.
AMEC – Only materials from the excavation are included so far. There is no information yet on materials (to be brought in). “There is a large gap”.
Q9 – I am a member of the public in favour of the project but with reservations, where is the tree planting? I don’t think the pumping of the slurry is not reasonable. What are they going to do for power? Will it be oil? I would expect oil is needed for generators along the pipeline. They can’t get the power out of the grid. The windfarm is very unlikely. So how will power get to the mine?
Answered by DJ: Two x 66 kv from Thornton Dale, with 33kv from Scarborough using timber poles.
MH – We have been told “there is sufficient capacity within the existing powergrid network”. The mine will increase the energy footprint, these details have been provided.
Q10 – The skills strategy and professionals needed along with skills profile has not been anticipated. There were major omissions and the key performance indicators should be quanitifed and qualified giving aspirations to the local workforce. A strategic part of human resources, benchmarking and a commitment to the workforce.
Q – A businessman from Scarborough; appreciated the work he had already been given indirectly via Mariott Drilling. In these hard times, not only jobs but work for small business was needed. More use of the Park and Ride scheme should be made, the buses that run on the Park and Ride scheme would be made in Scarborough.
Q – Whether the product is MOP or SOP, it is the potassium that is of value. Is the Planning decision to be based purely on the UK market? Because if so you might as well forget it.
MH – We are working on a ratio of 1 mt for the UK market and 4mt for export.
Q – (VI) then asked about the Silkin Test under the NPI Framework regs, mentioned earlier.
MH – Whilst the need for the product in the UK is taken into consideration, also taken into consideration was the exports for economic benefits.
Q – What about the need for Potash in the UK? There have been suggestions that Boulby’s potash will run out in 20 or 30 years time. Surely that is when we will need the Potash, here in the UK?
Have Boulby responded to the Planning Application?
AMEC – No, Boulby’s reaction to the Planning Application was not in yet, but was expected.
Q – As a local farmer and land owner, I support this for the rural economy.
Q – This does not meet the Silkin Test.
Q – (NYMA) What if the mine fails? Who will pick up the pieces?
MH – As part of the Application 300 landowners names were added to the application forms.
Q – But what about subsidence? Is there any insurance or assurances given?
MH – There is lots of missing information.
Q – (VI) Boulby make very special use of their void space. Have York Potash stated what they intend to do with the void space?
DT – (A member of the public) You’re that Vanda! Why not ask that mate of yours, Tim Thorne? York Potash have already answered that question many times, there is no issue over void space.
VI – We have written to York Potash three times and we have never received any reply. Again I ask the question; “Have York Potash included in its plans what they intend to do with the void space?”
AMEC – No. There is no details about use of the void space, this would only come in at Phase 2 when backfilling materials taken from the mine.
VI – So if there are no details about use of the void space, then perhaps in 20 or 30 years time, that space could be used to store waste?
DT – You’re talking about toxic and hazardous waste again!
VI – I never mentioned toxic or hazardous waste in my question, however given there is to be some considerable void space, then there is a possibility that space could in the future be used for toxic waste disposal?
DJ – (Diana Jeuda; WLP) Could a condition be put in the Planning Application that the void space is never used?
CF – No, we cannot do that. But if the mine were to be used for waste disposal a licence would be required from the relevant agency and authority.
Q – I read an article regarding your Member, Tim Lawn. Though the reasons for his resignation from the Council were not given, I would like to ask you directly if any other Members of the National Park Authority may be similarly compromised by way of land ownership or share-holdings?
CF – There are two other Members of the Park Authority that have declared their interests in the Project. They will not participate in discussion or decisions and will not be allowed to vote at the decision meeting.
Q – Who are those two Members?
CF – They are Helen Swiers and Mrs Mitchell.
Q – Going back to the spoil and the rocks. Surely there will be acidic leeching and a run off?
AMEC – As always the devil is in the detail. We don’t yet have that detail.
CF – We are still holding urgent meetings; yesterday with the MoD, Wednesday we have a meeting with the Environment Agency.
Q – What about the Ancient Woodland within the site?
And then I stopped listening as the meeting was brought to a close because all I could hear was the chap sat nearby repeating, “This is never going to happen”.
Then followed a brief private discussion about how to measure the sense of disappointment should the mine never be built.
To conclude this report with my own opinion and impression, I would firstly like to offer my respect to Chris France and his team on the NYMNPA.They have an extremely difficult decision to make, under an immense amount of pressure.
I conclude that indeed the NYMNPA are indeed fit for purpose. Their sense of responsibility and duty at tonight’s meeting was very clear. The disappointment factor in the lack of details provided by York Potash was very evident. If York Potash want this project to succeed they, need to pull their finger out and get put more facts on the table.
That said, the ‘sense of disappointment’ was quite illuminating? It begs the question as to what support of actual substance York Potash have received from other local authorities in terms of knowledge and understanding of the complexities of siting the mineshaft in its current location; particularly in relation to the MoD objection. This could and should have been avoided.
Had Goodwill et al bothered to do some research of their own, they would have been better placed to support this project. Whilst not liking to listening to what Diana Jeuda had to say in support of the mine, I was quite proud that the local Labour Party had taken the time and effort to file a report and contribute to the debate and discussion.
Finally, before some ’bright spark’ ‘third party’ puts pen to paper to trigger the call in of the application to the Secretary of State – thus relieving the NYMNPA of this difficult decision – it is worth remembering that this could postpone the Application decision by a further six months. At the rate that Sirius are spending their millions this could cause serious cash-flow problems, so should you want the project to succeed then think again.
The question now is? Are the NYMNPA and their Planning Committee Members the right people for the job?
In my own view, yes, they are; they have an enormous weight of responsibility and they are qualified, able and willing and have the necessary frameworks and resources to work with.
Let them decide.