New timescale for submission of minehead planning application
York Potash Ltd has announced that the planning application for the minehead development at Dove’s Nest Farm/Haxby Plantation near Whitby will be submitted to the National Park Authority at the end of September 2014, at the same time as the application for the mineral transport system (MTS). The application had been due to be submitted in July but the company considers that there are planning and environmental advantages in the revised timescale which would facilitate a more robust determination process for the two applications.
A pre-application presentation to the Authority’s Members will be given by York Potash on 14 July 2014. This is part of the Authority’s usual procedures for dealing with large scale planning applications and will enable Members to be updated on the company’s proposed development at Dove’s Nest Farm and the new proposals for an MTS (tunnel) from the minehead to the proposed materials handling plant and new port facilities on Teesside.
Members of the public are invited to attend the pre-application presentation which will take place at 1.30pm on 14 July 2014 at the Raven Hall Hotel, Ravenscar. Space will be limited at the venue and those interested in attending are asked to register their names with Fiona Farnell at the National Park Authority on 01439 772700 firstname.lastname@example.org
Copies of the presentations given by the company and National Park Authority officers together with minutes of the meeting will be posted on this page of the Authority’s website.
EIA Scoping Opinion issued for proposed Mineral Transport System
The Authority has now issued an EIA Scoping Opinion in relation to the proposed MTS. Scoping is an early stage in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process and is designed to ensure that the developer’s environmental studies provide all the relevant information on the impacts of the project and any alternatives that should be considered. The Scoping Opinion has been prepared by AMEC Environment & Infrastructure UK Ltd on the Authority’s behalf and can be viewed on the following link:
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 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 an average depth of 250 metres, moving the dry extracted mineral from the mine to a materials handling facility at Wilton on Teesside;
• Harbour facility at Bran Sands on Teesside.
The Marine Management Organisation has already granted the company a licence for the extraction of evaporate minerals including polyhalite and potash from beneath the sea bed.
How do the current proposals differ from the previous ones?
The new proposals mean 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 minehead 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 be three intermediate access points, one in the National Park at Lady Cross Plantation near Egton, the second just outside the National Park boundary at Lockwood Beck and the third at Tockett’s Lythe near Guisborough.
The applications process
When will a decision be made on the new proposals and which ‘consenting’ bodies will be involved?
York Potash has now confirmed that planning applications for both the minehead and the MTS/materials handling facility will be submitted at the end of September 2014. The minehead application will be made to the National Park Authority and will be for the extraction of polyhalite beneath the National Park and the development of the minehead infrastructure at Dove’s Nest Farm. The application for the MTS (tunnel) together with the materials handling facility at Wilton will 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. A Habtitats Regulations Assessment will be carried out as part of the consideration of both applications.
Proposals for the new port facilities at Teesside will be considered by the Planning Inspectorate as a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’.
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 the new mine application at the end of September 2014. The PPA also provides funding towards the cost of giving pre-application planning advice to the company for the mine 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 and mineral transport system.
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. This will include the impact on areas of the North York Moors protected under international legislation through the Habitats Directive.
The Authority approaches the York Potash 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. As part of its pre-application discussions the Authority’s officers have agreed a Planning Position Statement with the company which can be viewed on the following link. This is an informal officers’ working document which sets out areas of common ground on the planning issues identified to date and it is expected to change as further discussions take place:
When will I be able to comment 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 are encouraged to engage in the planning process and submit comments once a formal application is submitted.
York Potash is currently conducting an extensive pre-application consultation exercise including a series of public exhibitions, enabling local people and interested organisations to view the proposals in detail and talk to members of the York Potash project team. Further details can be found on the York Potash website at www.yorkpotash.co.uk
The pre-application presentation to Members to be held at Raven Hall Hotel on 14 July 2014 is open to members of the public (see Update above) and there will be further consultation opportunities once the planning application has been submitted. Details will be made available on this page of the Authority’s website at the appropriate time.
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