Potash plans are opposed by locals

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PLANS to build a potash mine near Scarborough are gathering momentum as applications are submitted for more test drilling sites.

The North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority is this week to decide whether to allow developers Sirius Minerals permission to drill temporary exploratory boreholes at Harwood Dale and Silpho.

The authority has already given the go ahead for temporary drilling at Hawsker, near Whitby, and Ubblebarnby.

Sirius Minerals is currently undertaking temporary drilling in the area to extract sample cores of potash underground and confirm further details about the mineral in the area before any detailed proposals for the wider project can be developed.

The complete plan is to build the first potash mine in the UK for 40 years, creating 5,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

Once of the test drilling is completed Sirius says it then plans to study the results alongside geological and seismic studies to determine where the mine head will be placed.

Up to ten applications for test drilling sites are expected in total for consideration by the North York Moors National Park Authority.

The latest two applications have been met mostly with opposition from residents surrounding the test drilling sites.

John and Melanie Shephard, of Harwood Dale, are worried about the effects the drilling will have on tourism in the area.

They said: “The erection of a vast drilling rigg, major flow of large aggregate lorries, will not give visitors, or future visitors the image on an area of beauty or tranquillity, but more that of an industrial site.

“We appreciate it is stated as temporary, yet the visitors who arrive during the proposed eight week periods will not appreciate this as their lasting impression of both our area now and the future.”

Desmond Baker of Burniston, also opposes the applications, stating: “This development would be an eyesore and a hazard to life and limb for all the residents and visitors to the dale.

“The additional heavy traffic caused by this potash development would be an outrageous imposition that our roads were not designed for.”

However Mr Smart, of Harwood Dale, who neighbours the proposed site, said: “Having taken in to consideration the short period of working time we are content that the drilling will not cause undue problems for our sleeping arrangements, providing the noise level explained to us is not exceeded.”

Sirius has also recently appointed potash consultants Ercosplan to lead the Concept Study work which will help to establish further details of the project.

Plans for the mine were revealed in January when 600sq km of mining rights between Scarborough and Whitby were sold to Sirius by York Potash.

Sirius, which has moved to an office on the Dawnay Estate business park at Wykeham to be close to the project, has since increased its mining rights to 621sq km.

Bosses say they expect drilling work to be completed by the end of the year, and the first plans for the mine could be submitted within 18 months to two years.

Site drilling is expected to last for five weeks with the sites being restored to their original condition after completion.