Update - Timescale for submission of revised and additional information
York Potash has confirmed the timescale for submitting further information in support of their planning application for a new potash mine. The National Park Authority was to have determined the application at a Special Planning Committee to be held on 29 July 2013 but agreed to defer the meeting at the company's request. The Authority now expects to receive new documents incorporating additional environmental information and supporting evidence in August 2014. The company has indicated that this timescale will allow them to prepare environmental information in respect of the wider project as required for Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitats Regulations Assessment processes.
The planning application documents are available to view on the following link:
AMEC review documents
The National Park Authority has appointed AMEC Environment & Infrastructure UK Ltd to provide specialist minerals planning and environmental advice in connection with the application. AMEC has reviewed the planning application and prepared review documents which are available to view on the following links:
The Authority also commissioned four studies which provide information needed as part of the assessment of the planning application. These cover the existing economy of the North York Moors, the UK and global potash markets and the implications of the proposals for tourism and the National Park's 'second purpose'. These studies can be viewed on the links below.
In January 2011 York Potash Ltd contacted the North York Moors National Park Authority to express an interest in developing a new potash mine within the National Park. Since then the Authority has given planning permissions for a number of temporary exploratory drill sites in the east of the Park between Whitby and Scarborough. The company has submitted a planning application for the extraction of Potash (Polyhalite) and the development of a new deep mine at Dove's Nest Farm/Haxby Plantation, Sneaton to the south west of Whitby.
Brief description of proposals
The proposal is described as 'the winning and working of potash (polyhalite) by underground methods from 25,300 hectares of land together with construction of mine including sinking of 2 no. deep shafts, retention/disposal/removal/landform modification of associated spoil, construction of buildings including welfare/office block and minehead primary processing buildings, access roads and car parking, helicopter emergency landing site, attenuation ponds and landscaping restoration and aftercare'.
Working in partnership
The proposals are part of the wider York Potash Project which aims to extract potash from two deep polyhalite seams which lie beneath the National Park and extend eastward underneath the North Sea. The Mineral would be taken in suspension for processing on Teesside via an underground pipeline which would run through the National Park.
York Potash is seeking consent for the proposed development from four separate authorities:
- The North York Moors National Park Authority is considering the planning application for the mine at Dove's Nest Farm/Haxby Plantation and the extraction of the mineral resource beneath the National Park.
- The National Infrastructure Directorate (part of the Planning Inspectorate) will consider the application for development consent for the pipeline which will be dealt with as a major infrastructure project. The Planning Inspectorate will also consider any future application for port development facilities.
- The Marine Management Organisation has granted a licence for the extraction of potash from beneath the sea bed.
- Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council will consider processing facilities at Teesside.
Other organisations including the Environment Agency, Highway Authority and Natural England are closely involved in the assessment of the proposals.
Relevant planning policy
The National Park is afforded the highest level of landscape protection and central government policy as set out in Paragraph 116 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 (the Major Development Test) applies to proposals for large developments such as the proposed new potash mine.
The Major Development Test states that planning permission for such developments should be refused except in exceptional circumstances where it can be demonstrated that they are in the public interest. Consideration of such applications should include an assessment of the need for the development and the cost of and scope for developing elsewhere. There should also be an assessment of any detrimental effects on the environment and the extent to which they could be mitigated.
Core Policy E, Minerals of the Authority's Core Strategy and Development Policies DPD (November 2008) confirms that proposals for minerals developments (apart from stone quarrying for local building needs) will be considered against the Major Development Test.
The Authority is making an objective and rigorous assessment of the proposals against the relevant policy considerations and has consulted other bodies to decide whether exceptional circumstances exist and whether the mine could be located outside the National Park. The Authority is carefully assessing the potential economic benefits as well as the environmental impacts of the development.
Environmental Impact Assessment
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process which considers the potential environmental impact of a major development proposal. Following a formal request for an EIA Screening and Scoping Opinion from York Potash, the Authority issued a Screening Opinion that the proposal for the new mine would be Schedule 2 EIA development. The Authority issued a formal Scoping Opinion in December 2012 which set out the 'scope' of the environmental information required. York Potash submitted an Environmental Statement with the planning application and has also supplied additional environmental information.
Process and timescale for considering the planning application
In April 2012 the Authority entered into a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) with York Potash which set out a timetable for determining the planning application within the statutory 16 week time limit for large scale EIA developments. The agreement enabled the Authority to obtain the specialist advice required for the proper assessment of the proposals. This is normal procedure when dealing with complex developments and encouraged by government in the interests of efficiency and good service.
The planning application received from York Potash Ltd was validated on 4 February 2013 and further information was received on 23 April. Additional information has been presented which has been subject to further public consultation. An issues report was considered at the Authority's May Planning Committee Meeting and Members agreed that there should be a site inspection which took place on 31 May 2013. It was agreed with York Potash that the application should be considered by the Authority's Members at a Special Planning Committee meeting on 29 July 2013 but this has now been cancelled following the company's request for a deferment. A number of requests have been made for the application to be 'called in' to be determined by the Secretary of State following a Public Inquiry because of the scale and wider significance of the proposals.
The National Park Authority acknowledges that public consultation is of vital importance in dealing with this major development proposal. During September 2012, York Potash carried out a programme of community consultation. The Authority also engaged in pre-application consultations with local communities and key stakeholders and attended local Parish Council meetings to outline the process for dealing with the application, answer queries and listen to local views on the proposals. A pre-application presentation to Members of the National Park Authority was given by York Potash on 28th September 2012 and, due to considerable public interest, a second meeting open to the public took place at the Authority's offices on 11 October 2012.
The Authority has encouraged residents, visitors, parish councils, businesses and all those who might be affected by the proposals to take the opportunity to engage in the planning process and comment on the application and additional information that has now been submitted. All relevant documents are available to view on the Planning Explorer pages of this website.
The Authority has organised two public meetings as part of the consultation process, the first at Raven Hall Hotel on 13 March 2013 and the second at Helmsley on 19 March 2013. The Powerpoint presentation given by the Authority's planning staff at the meetings is available to view using this link.
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