Update – New proposals announced by York Potash: 26 February 2014
York Potash Ltd has made an unexpected announcement that it has decided to replace its previously proposed pipeline for transporting polyhalite from the proposed mine at Dove’s Nest Farm with an underground conveyor based system. A series of linked conveyors would be contained in a tunnel at an average depth of 250 metres below the surface and would carry the mineral from Dove’s Nest Farm to the proposed materials handling and storage facility at Wilton, Teesside. The tunnel would be approximately 36 kilometres long with a diameter of 6 metres.
How is this different from the previous proposals?
The new proposal means that the mineral would be transported in a dry form and there would be no twin ‘slurry’ pipeline running between the mine and Teesside. The large mineral processing buildings at Dove’s Nest Farm that had been part of the 2013 planning application would no longer be needed but there would be additional surface structures for a tunnel access shaft at the mine head site and re-configured earth mounds to accommodate spoil from the tunnel construction. The tunnel would have a drift access entrance at Teesside and four access, maintenance and ventilation shafts with associated surface infrastructure. One would be at Dove’s Nest Farm and there would three intermediate access points, one of which be in the National Park, probably in the Egton area.
What has happened regarding the 2013 planning application?
The application for the new potash mine submitted by York Potash Ltd in February 2013 has been withdrawn. The National Park Authority had been ready to determine the application at a Special Planning Committee in July 2013 but agreed to defer the meeting following legal advice the company had received. The 2013 application had been held in abeyance at the company’s request since then and was withdrawn on 10 January 2014.
When will a decision be made on the new proposals and which ‘consenting’ bodies will be involved?
York Potash has confirmed its intention to submit two new planning applications in 2014. The first, in July 2014 would be to the National Park Authority for the extraction of polyhalite beneath the National Park and the development of the mine head infrastructure at Dove’s Nest Farm. The company has also stated that it intends to submit a second application for the proposed tunnel and mineral transport system together with the materials handling facility at Wilton in November 2014. This would be submitted as a ‘straddling’ application to the National Park Authority and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council with the same application documents being assessed by both authorities. The National Park Authority is considering the implications of the new proposals for the applications process and the timescales for decisions.
The company had previously stated that it intended to extend the proposed area for working the polyhalite mineral to include some areas outside the National Park boundary. This would have meant that the new mine head application would also be considered by North Yorkshire County Council (again as a straddling application) but the National Park Authority understands that this will not now happen and the proposed area of mineral working will be entirely within the National Park boundary.
Proposals for new port facilities at Teesside would be considered by the Planning Inspectorate as a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’.
In January 2011 York Potash contacted the North York Moors National Park Authority to express an interest in developing a new potash mine within the National Park. The York Potash Project was set up to extract mineral from two deep polyhalite seams which lie beneath the National Park and extend eastward underneath the North Sea.
Since 2011 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 submitted a planning application for the development of a new deep mine at Dove's Nest Farm/Haxby Plantation, Sneaton to the south west of Whitby in February 2013. The proposal was for the mineral to be taken from the mine head site in suspension for processing on Teesside via an underground pipeline. The 2013 planning application was withdrawn by the company in January 2014 and the updated proposals are now for:
- Mine head at Dove’s Nest Farm and extraction of polyhalite from a large area beneath the east of the National Park;
- Mineral transport system comprising a series of linked conveyors within a tunnel at depths of around 120 to 360 metres, moving the dry mineral to Teesside, including materials handling (granulation and storage) facilities at Wilton on Teesside;
- New port facilities on Teesside.
The Marine Management Organisation has already granted a licence for the extraction of potash from beneath the sea bed.
Working in partnership
How is the National Park Authority dealing with the proposals?
The Authority is working in partnership with key stakeholders in its consideration of the York Potash proposals. Various organisations including the Environment Agency, Highway Authority and Natural England are closely involved in the assessment of the proposals. The National Park Authority has appointed AMEC Environment & Infrastructure UK Ltd to provide specialist minerals planning and environmental advice in connection with the project.
What is a PPA?
The Authority is working with York Potash under a Planning Performance Agreement signed on 10 January 2014 which sets out a timescale for pre-application discussions leading to the submission of a new mine head application at the end of July 2014. The PPA also provides funding towards the cost of giving pre-application planning advice to the company for the mine head and other parts of the project. This is normal procedure when dealing with complex developments and encouraged by government in the interests of efficiency and good service.
Relevant planning policy
What are the relevant policy considerations for the proposed development in the National Park?
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 will make an objective and rigorous assessment of the proposals and will carefully assess the potential economic benefits as well as the environmental impacts of the development. York Potash will submit an Environmental Statement as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process which considers the potential environmental impact of a major development proposal.
The Authority approaches the new proposals with an open mind and the proposed development will be determined in the context of its local plan policies and government policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.
When will I be able to comments on the new proposals?
The National Park Authority acknowledges that public consultation is of vital importance in dealing with this major development proposal. Pre-application discussions between the Authority and the company are confidential but residents, visitors, parish councils, businesses and all those who might be affected by the proposals will be encouraged to engage in the planning process and submit comments once a formal application is submitted. However, it is likely that there will be a pre-application presentation of the mine head planning application to Members of the Authority’s Planning Committee by York Potash before the intended July submission date.
Email for further information.
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