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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Further support for Bradley West

Jonathan Walker

Commercial, industrial and union backing for Banks Mining’s Bradley West surface mine plans

BANKS Mining’s plans for a small extension to their Bradley surface mine, in Co. 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 businesses and customers, have written to Durham County Council in support of the 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 ha of land to the west of the current Bradley site and Bank Mining have committed to completing operational and restoration work there to the same August 2021 deadline to which the existing Bradley site is operating, if they are 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.

As well as receiving local community support, Banks Mining say letters of support have been submitted by customers that depend on them 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, assistant director of policy at the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘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, added: ‘The UK requires around 5–6 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 US 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 10 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, said: ‘We hope the members of Durham County Council’s planning committee will recognize the many benefits of allowing us to greatly increase our investment in this project.’

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