February 20, 2014 | Brenkley News
Local community groups, voluntary organisations and environmental projects are being invited to apply for funding from a benefits fund that forms part of the operations of a surface mine on the border of Newcastle and Northumberland.
Regional employer Banks Mining, part of The Banks Group, began operations at its Brenkley Lane surface mine near Seaton Burn at the beginning of 2010, and provides substantial funding for qualifying organisations in the surrounding communities as part of its commitment to leaving a positive long-term legacy from its operations.
The funding is ringfenced for two specific areas – Newcastle City Council’s Castle Ward, which includes Dinnington, Brunswick, Hazelrigg and the Brenkley area, and the Ponteland East Ward of Northumberland County Council, which comprises Stannington, Milkhope, Blagdon and the Horton Grange area.
Grants of up to £5,000 are available from the Brenkley Lane Community Benefits Fund for individual projects, though higher awards can be made in exceptional circumstances.
Groups which have previously received support range from sports clubs, special interest groups and community associations through to church, youth and OAP groups, and Banks is now aiming to add more names to the list of funding recipients.
One of the organisations which has already received support from the Fund is the Hazlerigg Action Group, which used a £30,000 grant to meet the majority of the costs of building a much-needed community play park which offers something for young children of all ages and abilities.
Louise Fairley of the Hazlerigg Action Group says: “Hazlerigg’s existing play area had become run down through use over the years, and it had reached the point where some families were taking buses out of the area to use similar facilities elsewhere.
“A great deal of hard work and dedication went in from our members to making this project a reality, but we would have had to do a huge amount more to raise the money needed to pay for it without Banks’ generous support, and we’re extremely grateful for their contribution to a fantastic facility that will be well used and appreciated by generations of local children.”
Family-owned Banks, which employs more than 200 people at the Brenkley Lane and nearby Shotton surface mines, has recently submitted a planning application for working an additional 14 hectare area on the Brenkley Lane site from which it wants to mine over 500,000 further tonnes of coal, an operation which would not require any extension of the site’s operational timescale.
Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, says: “Providing funding support to local good causes, and sharing the benefits of our business with the communities that host our developments has long been a central part of our ‘Development With Care’ approach.
“We’ve been able to make a huge positive difference to the well-being of dozens of communities in which we’ve operated over the years, most especially within the North East.
“The Brenkley Lane Fund has already supported the work of many local community groups and voluntary organisations, but we’re keen to do more and would encourage anyone with ideas for how we might help bring further local improvements to get in touch.”
Application forms and more information about the qualification criteria for Brenkley Lane Community Benefits Fund grants can be accessed by contacting James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 or visiting www.bankscommunityfund.org.uk
For more information on Brenkley Surface Mine please visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/brenkley-lane