Grants worth a total of 9,000 have been awarded to community groups located close to a County Durham surface mine.
And the company behind the scheme is now looking for more applications from other local good causes before the next meeting of the funding committee.
Banks Mining, part of regional employer The Banks Group, will direct around 50,000 of the revenues generated at the Bradley surface mine, which sits between Leadgate and Dipton, into the fund, with individual grants of up to 3,000 which are primarily for capital projects being available to deserving local causes.
The three recipients of the funds first grants, who have each been awarded the maximum amount, will be announced in the near future after the formalities of the application process have been officially completed.
The Bradley community benefits fund is independently administered by the County Durham Community Foundation, and a funding committee comprised of community representatives is responsible for ensuring the money is spent in ways which meet local priorities.
Cllr Ivan Jewell of Durham County Council chairs the committee, with Andy Plant of the Leadgate Area Partnership acting as it’s vice chair.
The next meeting of the nine-member panel, which also includes Father John Bagnall of Our Blessed Lady and St. Joseph Church in Leadgate, Fiona Maddick of Durham Constabulary and Cllr Alan Shield of Durham County Council, is due to take place in September and Banks Mining is looking for more ideas from local community groups on how the funds might best be used.
Eligibility for funding is normally restricted to projects and activities within the closest communities to the Bradley site, which are Dipton, Leadgate and Medomsley, but projects in neighbouring areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within the closest communities.
Work at continuing at the Bradley surface mine is now ongoing, with over 40 jobs being directly supported on site, alongside others in the local supply chain. Around half of those working there live within five miles of the site, with almost all living within a 15-mile radius.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “The fund is just one of the ways in which the Bradley surface mine delivers tangible benefits to the local community and we were very pleased with the number and quality of the initial applications we received.
“The committee members have picked out some very interesting and valuable local projects, and were keen to ensure they have as many applications to consider when their next meeting comes around.
“The fund is primarily designed to support capital projects, but we’re keen to hear as many ideas from as many different local groups as we can.
“As well as generating both money for the benefits fund and local employment opportunities, the high quality coal that is being produced at Bradley is helping to meet the UK’s continuing demand for it for a range of essential commercial, industrial and electricity generation needs, and is also reducing the country’s ever-increasing reliance on importing coal from overseas to meet this enduring need.”
Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for grant funding from the Bradley Community Fund should contact James Eaglesham at the County Durham Community Foundation on 0191 378 6342 or visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/development-with-care/bankscommunityfund