NYMNPA - Officers Report

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Chris France Planning Officer has published his report : http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/planning/york-potash/York-Potash-Specia...

Whilst the recommendation remains 'open' there is some 'ouch' - notably the dismissal of the York Potash Foundation 5.4.5 P28  "Members are advised to give very little if any weight to the York Potash Foundation proposal" 

6.1.4 - "Only 1% considered the impacts would be unacceptable"

7. Third Party Representations - page 53 to 63,  positive and 63 to 70 are negative, neutral page 70 to 71. 

Responses from Neighbouring Property - page 74 - two supporting - four against.  

Planning Policy & Major Development Test -  page 81, 8.5.4 "It is clear therefore that the need to give great weight to the economic benefits of mineral extraction should not override unacceptable environmental harm, particularly in areas which have statutory landscape, cultural and biodiversity protection." then follows much of the applicants focus on the economic role over social and evironmental.  to page 85 8.11.3 "Officers disagree ith the applicant’s conclusions on the way the NPPF interprets sustainable development, which is argued to put greater emphasis on the economic role.The concept of sustainable development is advanced on an equal weighting of the threepillars or roles: economic, social and environmental.  If either of these is given greater prominence the result is arguably unsustainable development."

Jumps to advice to members :  P87 -  8.11.11 -  "In terms of the weight to be afforded to the different elements of the policy criteria, this is a matter for the decision maker. So, although a proposal which can demonstrate very strong national economic benefits is an important part of the policy consideration, it is only a part of it and the Authority, because of its statutory purposes, may wish to give less weight to a need argument based on general benefits to the economy arising from the creation of jobs and revenue, as opposed to a case based on need for the mineral itself. Where there is a need for the mineral, it can be argued that such need should be given substantial weight, because minerals can be mined only where they occur. However, if the main argument in favour of the development is a more general economic one, it is harder for the applicant to establish that there is an exceptional case for the development in the National Park as jobs and economic activity can be generated from various types of development, many or most of which do not need a specific location in a National Park."  (Ouch ii)

Main Issues - Page 89 :

a) Whether the development is needed to meet the UK’s current and future requirement for potash and specifically polyhalite;

b) Whether the development is needed because of economic considerations such as providing additional employment and tax revenues, increasing competition or reducing the UK’s reliance on imports;

c) Whether the company’s conclusion that there is no scope for development of the minehead elsewhere outside the National Park is justified;

d) Whether there is scope for the need for the development to be met in any other way;

e) Whether the proposed development is likely to deliver the large scale economic benefits that are suggested; this requires consideration of the potential world-wide market for polyhalite and the company’s claims regarding its agronomic benefits. It isalso necessary to have an outline understanding of the company’s proposed business model;

f) What impact there would be on the National Park’s landscape and its special qualities, taking account of the mitigation measures incorporated into the proposals;

g) What impact there would be on protected species and habitats, particularly the adjacent internationally protected moorland and whether HRA requirements have been properly addressed;

h) What other environmental impacts there would be, including visual and traffic impacts, noise and vibration, air pollution, light pollution, any impact on heritage assets;

i) What impact there would be on recreational opportunities and the visitor economy, particularly during construction;

j) What impact there would be on the amenities and livelihoods of local residents and communities in the vicinity of the development sites;

k) Whether potential hydrology and hydrogeology risks during construction have been properly addressed;

l) Whether the transport proposals are acceptable for a major development in a remote rural location and rural road network;

m) Whether there are technical or practical risks in the minehead and MTS design and construction and whether the proposals for dealing with spoil from the excavation, shaft sinking and tunnel construction are satisfactory;

n) Whether there would be implications for Cleveland Potash’s mining operation at Boulby;

o) To what extent the proposed Section 106 provisions can be taken into account in the planning decision and whether those that can be considered are sufficient to mitigateand compensate for direct development impacts;

p) Whether the proposed restoration arrangements and other legal safeguards are adequate.

The above 16 points - highlighted by Chris France as the 'issue's are in my humbly bumbly what the Members need to be considering and discussing .... (if they haven't already :-)) ...  two by two by two  ....  this is the crux of the Members meeting decision making.

So whilst Chris France is taking the National Park policies and stance to the extreme his guidance to the deciding Members is erm .... well its all in the York Potash Application ... some reading to do :-)) (just in case)

No surprises in this report, France is being France. 

Sirius Minerals statement (RNS) : http://otp.investis.com/clients/uk/sirius-minerals/rns/regulatory-story....

Chris Fraser, Managing Director and CEO of Sirius, comments:

"Responsibility for balancing the various issues related to this application rests with the members of the Authority and we believe the case for approval is very strong because the Project represents a once in a generation opportunity.

"As recognised in the officers' report, the York Potash Project can bring significant economic and social benefits to the economies of the local and regional area.  The application also includes extensive mitigation, compensation and safeguards.

"We believe our planning case stands up to scrutiny and we remain determined to pursue the positive planning decision that will allow us to deliver this Project and all of its benefits."

The Company's position on these conclusions

"As set out in the report, the Company disagrees with certain policy interpretations reached by the officers and believes that the application meets the major development policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.  The Company believes that exceptional circumstances have been demonstrated and that the Project is in the public interest due to the substantial scale of the benefits and extent to which the environmental effects have been mitigated or compensated for.  The Company believes the proposals will bring lasting benefits to the National Park, to the regional and national economies, and are strongly consistent with the proper application of the national and local policies.

The Company does not accept that its Environmental Statement underestimates the environmental effects of the development.  There have been, and remain, certain areas where there are differences of professional judgement between the consultants used by the Authority and those of the Company.  It is important to highlight the responses from the key statutory consultees - the Environment Agency, Natural England and the local Highways Authority.  Aside from Natural England's objection on the grounds of construction landscape impacts, which it states are to be balanced against the benefits of the Project, there are no objections to the development proceeding from any of these key bodies.

In addition, as announced on 10 June 2015, the Company's revised Section 106 proposal was designed to address officers' and their adviser's concerns relating to the residual harm that can be addressed through Section 106 contributions.  The report identifies the extent to which the officers believe that these proposals can address the residual concerns that they have.

The planning case for the York Potash Project will now go before the members of the planning committee on 30 June 2015 for a decision, as previously announced.  The Company is confident that its application and the case set out in the documentation will be given due and proper consideration by the members.  A summary of the Company's planning case is available on the Project website (http://yorkpotash.co.uk/site/assets/files/1872/yp_summary_doc_web.pdf).

In the event of a refusal or a deferral by the committee the Company intends to submit an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.  This would result in a Public Inquiry being held by a Planning Inspector, who in turn would make a judgement as to whether the appeal should be upheld.  A final decision would be made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.  The Company is fully funded for this eventuality.

Special Planning Committee Meeting

The special planning committee meeting will be held at Sneaton Castle in Whitby, commencing at 10am on 30 June 2015.  It is a public meeting, although the Authority has already allocated all the public seats on a first come first serve basis.  It is understood that the Authority is seeking to relay proceedings online via a live stream.

As previously announced, the Company's ordinary shares will be suspended from trading at 7:30am on 30 June 2015, pending the outcome of that meeting and a subsequent announcement to the market.  Trading in the Company's shares will resume as soon as practicable following the decision being announced.

The Authority has reserved the following day (1 July 2015) to continue the meeting if no resolution is reached on 30 June 2015. "



Mortal Mindy's picture

NE: 'Campaigners disappointed'

Erm, campaigners ? Who?


"Members will have to weigh up the huge potential boost to the UK trade deficit, the local economy and jobs, against a predicted ecological cost to the protected environment. The decision will set a national precedent for the nation’s national parks.

The report acknowledges the significant economic benefits of the plans, saying it could potentially create a world market for polyhalite as a plant fertiliser to increase food yields."

Ah, here we go "The lack of a voting recommendation in the report has been criticised by the Campaign for National Parks, which says it is “disappointed” officers failed to recommend refusal."






Mortal Mindy's picture

France 'Masterly Report' - an investors view

via LSE :  8.46 Shylock 

"Love him or loathe him, Chris France has produced a masterly report which pulls together every strand of this complex weave in a very intelligent, coherent, well structured and easy to digest way. After reading the whole report, it is very clear that he is advising the committee to reject the mine, so the decision to attach no formal recommendation must have been forced upon him.

We have a professional civil servant advising his lay committee members that according to the law and their statutory responsibilities, they can and should reject the mine. But his planning committee are politicians who will weight their judgement on broader issues. In some cases, their own councils have already given public approval to the mine. And they will give greater weight to the views of the electorate and the prospect of improving the local economy. So, all things being equal, they could be expected to vote for the mine.

But Chris France has given them plenty to ponder. He tells them: "the proposed development does not represent a form of sustainable development that is appropriate for the National Park and, as such, the proposal is contrary to Core Policy" and that "the application has not fully addressed or met the policy requirements of the major development test and has not demonstrated that the proposal represents Exceptional Circumstances or is in the public interest. It is considered to be fundamentally in conflict with national planning policy on major development in National Parks…" and that his advice, backed by legal opinion, "provides Members with a clear steer in terms of the planning judgment which will influence the decision."

His case is cogently argued, using ammunition I wish he didn't have. Not least, how on earth could Sirius have commissioned poly research and crop trials which make it so easy for detractors to dismiss the comparisons with other fertilisers because the playing field wasn't level? It is basic common sense to compare like with like and it therefore seems as though Sirius were trying to rig the results.

And it does appear that the demand for "straight" Poly will be dwarfed by its value in blends. But once blended, Poly loses some key attributes including its organic flag. And if blended with KCl, it will no longer be chloride-free. So Sirius will have to buy market share by reducing the price to well below the $150pt upon which the national Treasury benefits were predicated. It doesn't help that potash prices are currently depressed and other producers have plenty of capacity, temporary though that scenario may be.

This is a compelling report and it may persuade some members to vote against the mine. But I still believe that PP will be granted this time. But the odds have tightened to 60/40 imho whereas they were 80/20 before the report."

if you want this removing .... wave!