North York Moors mineral mine set to get go-ahead – by Helen Pidd (The Guardian – June 30, 2015)

Promising to create over 1,000 jobs and pump £1bn-plus into the UK economy, the scheme has won over many locals but angered environmentalists

One of the biggest developments in a UK national park in living memory could get the go-ahead on Tuesday if councillors approve plans for a £1.7bn mineral mine under the North York Moors.

Following Lancashire council’s surprise decision to defy its own planners and legal advisers by rejecting fracking on Monday, the meeting in Whitby will be closely watched by those keen to see whether big resources projects can win over local officials.

UK firm Sirius Minerals – via its subsidiary York Potash – wants to dig a mile-deep shaft under the moors to tap a huge seam of a potassium-rich mineral called polyhalite, a type of potash used as fertiliser, for the next 100 years or more.

Promising more than 1,000 local jobs and an annual contribution to the UK GDP of over £1bn, the scheme has won over many initially sceptical locals worried about the environmental impact on the beautifully bleak moorland.

Many hope the project will restore the proud heritage of mining in the north-east, believing that the future wellbeing of the national park and its community are being negatively affected by increasing economic and social decline.

About half of the proposed £1.7bn capital investment has been put aside by Sirius to mitigate the development’s impact on the national park.

One neighbouring farmer, urging planners to approve the proposal (pdf), wrote: “It will be a great boost for the local economy and should not be opposed simply because it is ‘in our own back yard’ … Please approve the application and stop the deteriorating living standards of the Whitby people. Stop the young moving out and plan to keep families together.”

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