Plans submitted for three more potash drilling sites

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DEVELOPERS have submitted plans for three new drilling sites around a North Yorkshire national park in a bid to exploit one of the world’s most extensive deposits of potash.

York Potash, the company behind the plans to create the first mine of its kind in the UK for nearly 40 years, has revealed more exploratory drilling work is to take place across the North York Moors National Park to pinpoint the best location for the multi-million pound development, which is expected to create up to 5,000 jobs.

Recent drilling has discovered a potash intersection nearly four times as thick as had initially been hoped, yet the company claims more work is needed on the underground geology before detailed proposals for the wider project can be developed. All three sites are located within commercial forestry blocks, two at Langdale Forest and one within the Newton House Plantation.

Chris Fraser, the managing director of York Potash’s parent company, Sirius Minerals, said: “We’re pleased to be able to propose these temporary drilling sites in locations where local communities will not be affected.

“The work will help us fill in the gaps in knowledge of the underground conditions and we will continue to work as quickly as possible to complete this phase of work.”

Last month, the MP for Scarborough and Whitby, Robert Goodwill, who has claimed the proposed mine will bring a welcome economic boost to the Yorkshire coast where employment opportunities are limited, urged the company to look at further minimising the impact on the countryside after it emerged the potash deposits are even more extensive than first thought.

As many as 10 temporary drilling rigs are planned in the national park before a full planning application for the mine is submitted next year.

Residents have already voiced fears that a major drilling operation in the park would destroy one of the country’s finest landscapes. Concerns have also been voiced about the amount of traffic which would be generated if the potash mine goes ahead.

The multi-national firm Sirius Minerals has now uncovered a 60ft seam of high grade polyhalite – potassium sulphate – a mineral which is an essential component of fertiliser.