North East employer Banks Mining’s plans for a small extension to its Bradley surface mine in County Durham have won support from the commercial, industrial and union sectors.
The North East England Chamber of Commerce and Unite The Union, along with several major supply chain business and customers, have written to Durham County Council in support of the family-owned firm’s plans to extract around 90,000 tonnes of high-quality coal for supply to UK industrial customers and 20,000 tonnes of fireclay for use by regional brickmakers from the new area.
The extension covers 18.5 hectares of land off the A692 Pont Road between the western edge of the current Bradley site and the roundabout on which the Jolly Drovers pub sits at the eastern edge of Leadgate village.
The family-owned firm has committed to completing operational and restoration work there to the same August 2021 deadline to which the existing Bradley site is operating if it is able to move the project forward through a positive local planning decision.
The Bradley West planning application is set to be considered by Durham County Council tomorrow (Wednesday 1 July), with the Council’s planning officers giving it a recommendation for approval.
Letters of support have also been submitted by customers that depend on Banks Mining for the supply of essential industrial coal and fireclay, including steel giant Tata Steel, international brickmaker Wienerberger and clay raw materials supplier Castle Claysales.
Jonathan Walker, the North East England Chamber of Commerce’s assistant director - policy, says: “The Bradley West scheme…will bring economic benefits for the local communities and for the North East generally, as well as reducing the environmental impact of importing coal.
“Having the coal produced locally rather than imported from abroad would also…..create new jobs for the local community and support a local supply chain.”
Jerry Swain, Unite The Union’s National Officer for Construction, adds: “The UK requires around five to six million tonnes every year to manufacture steel, cement and for other industrial processes such as carbon fibre production, and for powering heritage railways, traction engines and steam pumping houses.
“As it is, the vast majority of coal needed by the UK is already imported from Russia, Colombia, the USA and Australia, and importing coal such huge distances is clearly causing more damage to the environment than using locally-mined coal.
“The carbon emissions from simply transporting coal from Russia and Australia to the UK is more than the emissions produced from the combined mining and transporting of coal mined at Bradley to Banks Mining's UK customers.”
The Bradley West site would provide continued employment for the 39 people currently working at Bradley, more than half of whom live within ten miles of the site, as well as additional investment in the local supply chain.
It would also allow Banks Mining to increase its support for local community groups and charities by providing a further £48,000 for the Bradley community benefits fund.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “British industry still needs coal for a range of essential manufacturing processes, and while this remains the case, it doesn’t just make economic sense to use the coal we can produce here, but social, ecological, environmental and climate sense too.
“Given the extraordinary public health, economic and employment challenges now facing the North East and the wider country, it makes greater sense than ever to meet UK industry’s continuing need for essential minerals like coal and fireclay from UK resources, rather than continuing to increase our reliance on overseas supplies which release greater greenhouse gas emissions through their mining and transportation.
“Doing so also supports much-needed and highly-skilled northern jobs and supply chains, delivers regional environmental and conservation enhancements, and boosts the UK's balance of payments.
“Our highly-skilled team has been producing high-quality coal at Bradley for two years in the safest, most efficient and most responsible way possible, and we hope the members of Durham County Council’s planning committee will recognise the many benefits of allowing us to greatly increase our investment in this project.”