Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Leading Ecologist Backs Plan for New Potash Mine

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Leading Ecologist Backs Plan for New Potash Mine

Article excerpt

Byline: Kelley Price Business writer

A TOP academic and UK advisor on global food security has backed plans for a potash mine and Teesside processing plant.

Professor Tim Benton, "champion" of the cross-government Global Food Security (GFS) programme, says the benefits of the York Potash scheme will outweigh any disadvantages - including impact on the local environment.

The company wants to build a mine south of Whitby linked to a processing facility at Wilton, creating 3,000 jobs.

Two main parts of the project - a materials handling facility at Wilton and a mineral transport system - were approved by Redcar and Cleveland council last month, with several planning hurdles still left to clear.

Prof Benton says polyhalite, the type of fertiliser that York Potash will produce, could make future UK food production more resilient.

The GFS programme is a partnership of the "major public bodies with an interest in food and the associated future challenges".

Prof Benton, who is also a professor of ecology at Leeds university, says more mouths to feed - and increases in household wealth - are putting pressure on global food production. Making it clear he was speaking in a personal capacity, prof Benton said in a submission to North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA): "Over the next 35 years, the earth is being asked to produce more food than it has to date in human history. Global land base is fixed; getting the same output from a smaller area is a necessity."

Yields from Polyhalite may be higher with less emissions than other fertilisers, making future demand "likely" he added.

"Polyhalite has some signifi-cant potential to be preferentially adopted.

"Currently, the majority of UK fertiliser is imported.

"Having access to significant local mineral fertiliser can add to the resilience of the UK agrifood system. …

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