Desperado's ....

Mortal Mindy's picture

The Public Consultation for the Minerals & Waste Joint Plan ends in a few days 11th April.   Whilst it is not likely that any 'Plan' will be formalised before 2015, much of the Consultation responses so far have not been about how or if your bins will be emptied but about 'fracking' and the environmental impacts after the York Potash Planning Application's scheduled decision date. It is of course the NYMNPA that will be studying and scrutinising the 'responses' from this Consultation whilst simultaneously  preparing for the York Potash Application and impending Decision.  Expected late 2014.   Whilst the NYMNPA are arranging meetings for its own Parishes, it should be noted that Scarborough Town residents are being left out on a limb, this consultation is an opportunity to bang one in .....

Consultation (deadline 5pm Friday 11 April 2014):

Scarborough Council rounds up on the leading authorities for the Minerals & Waste Joint Plan,  (Chem' iii):

"5.23 .... officers are concerned that the Sustainability Appraisal (pages 295 to 304 of volume 2) appears to take a stance that sets out its stall for the future consideration of the proposed Potash Mine and seeks to preclude development in the North York Moors National Park ...  are concerned at the sustainability appraisal’s suggestion that the limiting of production to one mine is positive because it prevents harm at a second theoretical site. The assessment of Option 1 implies any other potash mine within the National Park regardless of location and scale would be negative on all accounts apart from employment ....  The assessment recognises that there may be an expansion of the Boulby mine but still scores it as positive in objectives such as biodiversity, water quality and reducing transport miles and emissions. Your officers consider it flawed to reach these conclusions whilst at the same time reaching the conclusion that a new mine would have to have a negative effect on these objectives. ..... Option 3 suggests positive effects on objectives such as biodiversity, air quality and traffic, whilst in assessing Option 2 these are all negative. There is no evidence to support these conclusions as a site outside the National Park could have an equally negative effect on these objectives depending on its location. It would appear that the assessment that it has been written in a way that is very much influenced by the potash mine proposals in the National Park .... officers would take the view that unless the production from the one mine will actually have a positive effect on, for example biodiversity, it should be scored as neutral. The sustainabilty appraisal is a key element of the plan-making process, and any fundamental weaknesses would threaten the overall soundness of the plan, as well as individual policy elements. It is therefore recommended that the Borough Council expresses concern over this element of the sustainabilty appraisal, and the implications for the Plan as a whole."

Further, a more logical response 'GK', shooting rather succinctly: :-))

"Comment on the NYCC M&W Joint Plan, Chapter 5, sec 155 to 160, id34

Option 1: "Support an indigenous supply of potash from one location only."

Comment: This misunderstands how the life of mines develop over time, they become 'exhausted', ie it becomes more and more difficult for a mine to remain economically viable when it has a single minehead access point and the extractable ore has to be won from greater and greater distances from the mine shaft bottom. In the case of Boulby there is proposed new investment but that may only extend it's life by 1 to 2 decades, from my understanding. With this option there would be a real future risk of a situation arising where there is no extraction of this vital and strategic mineral in this country and a set of policies in place where there is no means of allowing it from where it is viable to mine it.

Option 2: "Support the principle of multiple sources of potash supply from within the Plan area.

Comment: This would not only provide the possibility of "economic benefits" but many other social and environmental benefits could arise from careful application of funding to the area of the local wealth created from mineral extraction. It would also allow a much higher degree of certainty of continuity of supply of potash.

Option 3: "Support new locations for potash extraction outside of the North York Moors National Park only."

Comment: To protect the Park from any development this would be a sensible approach. However in the particular cases of Boulby and York Potash the geology of the resources does not support the economic mining of potash (either Sylvinite or polyhalite at other locations other that Boulby's existing site or in the near vicinity of York Potash's proposed site near Sneaton.

From sec 116 of the NPPF: "the cost of, and scope for, developing elsewhere outside the designated area, or meeting the need for it in some other way; and
*any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated"

For the York Potash scheme there is no "scope for developing elsewhere outside the designated area" and the NPPF accepts that developments are allowable if "any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities........could be moderated" in an acceptable way. From my understanding.

Option 4: "Support extraction of potash from under the National Park as well as outside of the National Park but only support siting of surface infrastructure outside the National Park."

Comment: Though it would be technically feasible to place a minehead at a considerable distance from where the extractable ore is winnable, there are 3 important reasons why this is impractical and therefore I believe York Potash would never proceed with such a scheme.

1/ Such a mine designed this way would immediately have the same issues that 'exhausted' mines do with long distances to workings, drastically impairing the economics of such a proposal.

2/ There would be very large and I suspect unacceptable to local communities, amounts of spoil created in cutting the long drifts/tunnels needed to reach the ore from the mine head.

3/ The long journey times for staff from face to surface would add significant risk to the wellbeing of operative in an emergency situation.

General comment: with the York Potash design particular effort has been made to minimise surface impact of the mine buildings and Mineral Transport System. I believe this is an acceptable level of moderation to protect this valuable landscape." 
Consultation (deadline 5pm Friday 11 April 2014):

Any doubts of anything other than a successful decision for the York Potash Project is clearly adding some consternation  to the Council.  All of their recent Forward & Strategic Plans have  been based around the economic benefits that a new York Potash Mine and the Wind Farm Development would bring.   Although any expected receipts from the Mine have been prudently excluded from SBC's latest Financial & Budget Report, the Section 151 Officer, along with other Officers and Leading Members of the Council must surely be 'banking' on Approval of the Mine and will no doubt be bending over backwards (or whatever)  to ease and assist the planning process. (not aide and abet).   With the Council's  purse-strings now at strangulation point (last year a £ 3 mil black hole in their accounts, before the new Depot at a cost of £ 3 mil and then following Tesco pulling out of a deal that would secure £ 10 mil)  add in the £ 3 mil owed to HCA , consultation fees, and all of the new housing developments intitiated by the  Council expecting a boost to the Borough's population of around 20,000 new residents etc etc. that leaves a new total of £ 20 mil that the Council needs to pull out of a magic hat, or rather a big hole .... SBC are certainly not sitting between a rock and a hard place. 

That said, with the  Council's recent history of failed 'strategic' development ventures and plans falling apart ...., who would rely on their judgement to secure a sustainable future ....   despite advice from the Section 151 officer (who once mentioned the council were at risk of being put under 'special measures') the Council 's leading Members continue to try and build a 'legacy' of developments, including lending £9 mil for a new water park, (another stick up)  that they will have to borrow from Reserves.  Unfortunately desperate times need desperate measures .... boom or busted?


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