Discussions are taking place between the North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA) and York Potash over alternative locations for a Potash mine.
The planning application for the proposed Potash mine at Dove’s Nest, Sneaton, was put on hold earlier this year after the Park Authority claimed there was a substantial amount of information missing from the application. York Potash agreed to resubmit their planning application and it is thought the application could be decided in late 2014.
The NYMNPA are unhappy with statements from York Potash that there are no viable alternative sites outside of the Park and are making the company do due diligence on alternative locations for a mine.
York Potash have always claimed that there is no Plan B with regard to the mine location, but alternative mine locations have been on the NYMNPA agenda since the start of 2013.
Two potential sites have been identified and it is expected that substantial geological work will be needed to fully assess their viability, although York Potash have previously indicated the sites are not as economically viable as their favoured site, Dove’s Nest.
The first site identified is Cloughton Surrounds. The site lies directly to the west and southwest of Cloughton, near Scarborough. The area pictured lies inside York Potash’s area of mining interest, but outside of the National Park; therefore any development would not be subject to a Major Development Test, which may make planning approvals significantly easier.
The site is thought to be not as economically enticing as Dove’s Nest, due to geological faulting in the area. Mining would therefore fan out to the west and northwest of any potential mine site.
The second site identified is Whitby Enclave. The site lies to the northwest of Ruswarp and northeast of Briggswath. Again, the area pictured lies inside York Potash’s area of mining interest, but outside of the National Park, therefore any development would not be subject to a Major Development Test, which may make planning approvals significantly easier.
The land is bordered by the A169 Pickering road and the A171 Teeside road, which means mine traffic will not traverse the streets of Whitby. Potentially, the site could be just across the road from the proposed Whitby Park and Ride site, currently being railroaded through by North Yorkshire County Council.
Again, the site is thought to be not as economically enticing as Dove’s Nest due to the close proximity to Cleveland Potash’s area of interest, which lies to the north. Mining would fan out to the south of any potential mine site.
There is the feeling that York Potash are being made to jump through hoops to get the mine at Dove’s Nest, but if either of the sites identified are found to be viable in the eyes of NYMNPA, then surely there is little chance that York Potash can build the mine in the National Park.
Sirius Minerals shares have taken big falls in the last few months due to the uncertainty of the York Potash Project. The shares are currently hovering around 7p. Keeping an eye on any land transactions in either of the two identified areas would be prudent for any current or potential investor. There are already reports that landowners to the north and northwest of Cloughton have sold their mineral rights to York Potash for considerable sums.
A number of elected members of local authorities have land-holdings in that locality.
In other Potash news, former SBC Councillor and chairman of the North York Moors National Park Authority Planning Committee, Tim Lawn, was cleared by North Yorkshire Police. NYP stated that while Mr Lawn technically broke the law, there was no criminal intent in his actions.
It seems ignorance of the law is a defence after all.
Article first posted to Real Whitby on December 4 2013.
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