IT’S hot on my ledge today. This thin place of refuge has no air-conditioning, just a window that can be left open or shut. This is not like the office I used to work in, where the air-conditioning led to constant squabbles. The chilly contingent shivered and swore, and then fiddled with the thermostat. Minutes later, hot air would blow down from the roof, leaving those of us in the hot contingent to sweat and swear.
There was no happy medium, just a system that blew hot or cold and could never be fixed to everyone’s satisfaction. A little like democracy.
When the weather is good, people sometimes phone in with a feigned illness and then head out into the sun. This is something I have never done. Look, I know that makes me sound too industrious for my own good. From where I now stand, this makes me wonder. If I’d thrown a few sickies in my time, the job would still have gone, but more sun would have kissed my face.
Today I am sitting inside writing this when I could be out in the sunshine. Perhaps I’ll phone myself up and say that I am not feeling well, and then go and sit outside.
Looking for a topic today, my eye settled on the York potash mine near Whitby. This was yesterday given approval in a close vote by members of the North York Moors National Park Authority. After a four-year planning wrangle, locals cheered the close result: eight for, and seven against.
Now York Potash, part of Sirius Minerals, will be able to dig a mile-deep shaft under heavily protected moorland overlooking Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay.
There is an interesting divide on such matters. Those who live away from the area but like to visit occasionally are against such developments. I’ll admit to being in that camp. But how are my rights as a visitor to a beautiful area set against the needs and wishes of those who live there? It’s a difficult balance, and one from which no one emerges with clean hands.
Many locals who supported the mine stand to benefit from its presence. A reported 300 farmers and fellow landowners are said to have struck lucrative royalty deals for the mineral rights under their land. In the first 50 years of operation, York Potash expects to pay out £1.4 billion in royalties. Interestingly, if fracking splits the earth beneath where you live, you apparently have no such rights.
Massive claims are being made for what is a massive project. The mine will include a mile-deep shaft beneath project moorland and a 16km tunnel to Teesside. The company estimates that the mine will create 1,000 jobs, and this is what appealed to many locals (as well as earning money for doing nothing more than sitting above a tunnel). Fair enough, in that the area’s economy is stagnant. Yet this mine has an estimated life of 100 years, so are those 1,000 jobs spread over that span and if so is that really so many jobs?
I still feel sad about this decision. Once such industrial developments are allowed on such a stunning national park, you do wonder where it all will end. Perhaps I should go outside in the sunshine to recover. Ah, the phone is ringing. It’s me calling to say that I don’t feel too well today (must work on perfecting that croaky voice).