Moors planning expert joins potash project

A PLANNING expert from the North York Moors National Park has joined the board of Sirius Minerals as the firm looks to build a potash mine on the outskirts of Scarborough.

Peter Esdaile Woods is a former chief geologist at the Boulby Potash Mine and consulted on projects in Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Spain and Russia.

He was also a member of the North York Moors National Park planning committee for four years.

Mr Esdaile Woods joins the team as the project gathers pace, with bosses planning to submit initial applications for test drilling sites within the next month.

The company says it is in the final stages of putting applications together for test drilling in the area, which along with geological and seismic studies, will eventually help determine where the mine head will be placed.

Sirius managing director Chris Fraser, said: “Having now worked closely with Peter for over a year on the creation and evaluation of the York Potash Project, I can without doubt say he will bring irreplaceable experience in both potash and the local environment to our company.

“As well as being a talented geologist, Peter also has a passion for the environment. He will bring to the board of Sirius his valuable perspectives on sustainable development and those of someone living in the local community.

“I know Peter will make a great contribution to building Sirius into the new potash powerhouse.”

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

Following the takeover Sirius, which specialises in potash exploration and development, announced proposals for the mine which is estimated to created up to 5,000 jobs both directly and indirectly, with 1,500 jobs created alone during the development and construction phase and 1,000 people operating the mine.

Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill has backed the plans but is warning developers they will not be given an “environmental blank cheque”.

Mr Goodwill, was speaking following a meeting between Sirius Minerals, council chiefs and the North York Moors National Park Authority over the proposals.

He said: “I’m certainly welcoming this. What we need to do is make sure the environmental impact from what they are intending to do is addressed.

“We are not writing a blank cheque with regards to the local environment.

“The fact is, the potash is under the North York Moors. Other industries, especially tourism, rely heavily on the picturesque nature of this environment.”

Sirius has now moved in to office space at Wykeham, on the Dawnay Estate’s business parks, so bosses can be on site to finalise plans for exploration work at between five and ten drilling sites, with drilling work due to be completed by the end of the year.

Mr Fraser says he expects the first drilling site to be finished in August or September, and believes the first plans for the actual mine could be submitted within 18 months to two years.

If the project goes ahead Sirius estimates agricultural potash, which is a powdery salt used in fertilizers, could be extracted from the new mine for the next 50 years.