Former Whitby mine boss looks to open leading eco attraction in Ryedale

An entrepreneur behind a mine scheme in the North York Moors National Park has unveiled proposals to extend “a leading eco attraction” distillery on a country estate, even before launching the venture.

By Stuart Minting, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 10:38 am

Former Sirius Minerals chief executive Chris Fraser’s new business, Ellers Farm Distillery, has lodged an application with Ryedale District Council to create a bar to serve tasters, a function room to stage cocktails classes, a reception area for tours and a merchandise shop, alongside a distillery and visitor centre at the near Buttercrambe which was given planning consent last year.

While the impact of the Woodsmith polyhalite mine near Whitby on tourism, the landscape and ecology of the national park saw Sirius agree to pay more than £8m to the park authority to offset it, planning documents for the distillery venture state it was being “built on the simple principles of balancing people, planet and profit”.

The papers state the business, on the 17th Century Aldby Park Country Estate, aims to produce 1.2m bottles of gin, vodka, whisky and liqueurs each year, but add there would be “plenty of room for expansion”.

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Chris Fraser, pictured when he was with Sirius Minerals.

They state the business is “committed to being climate positive” and is scheduled to open imminently.

The documents state: “The intention is that the site will be a leading eco attraction in North Yorkshire with the goal of being B-Corp certified.

"These are businesses that balance purpose and profit and are legally required to consider the impact of decisions regarding workers, customers, community and environment.

“The distillery is intended to become a tourist attraction and venue, enhancing the variety of locally produced goods, and attracting visitors already encouraged by the regional food centres of York and in particular Malton.

“This application seeks to continue the distillery development enabling another barn to be retained and upgraded and to make a positive contribution to the local community and economy, without damage to their rural and agricultural origins.

“The conversion and reuse of the existing buildings complies with the low carbon footprint, back to nature and green policies of the applicant.

"The intention is for the business to develop and form strong and supportive links to the local ecology, community, and economy.”

The plans come just a month after it was announced Mr Fraser was swapping leading the Woodsmith mine project to a “strategic projects role” at Anglo American, which bought Sirius MInerals in a takeover in 2020 for £400m, leading to heavy losses for thousands of investors.

After the latest proposals were lodged and months of work to build the distillery, Mr Fraser wrote on LinkedIn: “Absolutely brilliant effort in such a short space of time.

"The team are getting close to the end of the beginning.”