April 19, 2013 | Brenkley News
Plans to mine around a million additional tonnes of coal at two north east surface mines which will help sustain around 200 local jobs are set to go on show.
Regional employer Banks Mining has been successfully operating the Shotton surface mine in south east Northumberland and the Brenkley Lane surface mine in Newcastle since 2008 and 2010 respectively, and currently contributes around £20m to the regional economy every year through the two sites.
Banks has now identified an additional three hectare area at the Brenkley Lane surface mine from which it is looking to mine over 400,000 tonnes of coal, as well as two additional areas for mining operations in the south west corner and on the western side of the Shotton site.
The two sites already contribute more than £400,000 in business rates every year, and if the additional areas are granted planning permission, it would enable Banks to continue its support for local facilities through its Banks Community Fund, which has already seen £700,000 given to groups and good causes in Northumberland over the last nine years.
The Brenkley Lane work would not require any extension of the site’s current operational timescale, with the site still set to be completely restored by the end of 2021.
Up to 550,000 tonnes of coal would be extracted from the two Shotton locations, which would be transported away from the region by rail from the port of Blyth.
The additional work would require a 12 month extension to the lifetime of the Shotton site, with coaling completed by October 2017 and full restoration carried out by October 2019.
A planning application for the Shotton South West scheme is expected to be submitted to Northumberland County Council within the next few weeks, with a planning application for the Brenkley Additional scheme being submitted to both Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council around the same time.
Further surveying work will be carried out on the second new area at Shotton, known as Shotton Triangle, over the next few months before a detailed proposal is worked up.
Public exhibitions are now set to be held for each scheme, with the Brenkley Additional proposals going on show between 3pm and 7pm on Tuesday 23 April at Dinnington Social Club, and the Shotton plans following between the same times at Stannington Village Hall on Thursday 25 April.
Banks’ representatives will be available at both events to discuss the details of the proposals as they currently stand, and to answer any questions that visitors might have about them.
Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, says: “The Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface mines operate in a safe, responsible and efficient way, and enable us to make significant, long-term contributions to both the local and wider regional economies which we want to develop even further.
“Coal will remain a central part of the UK’s energy mix for the foreseeable future, with production from appropriate domestic sites being far more desirable than relying on imports for environmental, economic and supply continuity reasons, and the additional work we’re looking to undertake at these two sites will enable us to continue our long-term investment in local jobs, the local supply chain and local communities.”
Banks recently won planning permission from Northumberland County Council for the Ferneybeds surface mine, which will be located to the south of the village of Widdrington Station, and won praise from community leaders for the inclusive way in which the planning application was developed in conjunction with local people and altered to reflect queries they raised about its operation.
The firm has maintained an operational presence in this area for more than three decades, and recently instigated a new apprenticeship scheme which has seen four local young people join its plant maintenance team at the Shotton and Brenkley Lane mines, as well as receiving a comprehensive two-year training programme that will be delivered by Northumberland College.
Mark Dowdall continues: “We know that taking an inclusive, consultative approach to development is the best way to operate for everyone concerned, and the initial discussions we have held with community representatives over recent months about these schemes has been very positive indeed.
“We now want to share our plans with the wider community, so we can gather feedback from them and answer any immediate queries they might have about them, and hope that as many local people as possible will be able to attend the forthcoming public exhibitions.”
Anyone wanting more information on the new Shotton or Brenkley Lane proposals should contact the Banks Mining development relations team on 0191 378 6100, or via email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org