It’s disappointing to see Mayor Jamie Driscoll’s response in The Journal on 17 March to our comments on his Journal article of 9 March with statements that deflect from the key issue at hand.
The Mayor has not “had two face to face conversations with representatives from Banks Group”. I invited him to come to visit our site when I briefly spoke to him at a business meeting in Newcastle and no ‘second meeting’ has occurred (the Mayor may be referring to a meeting he held with members of the Unite union at which no Banks Group employees were present). Also I have no record of anyone at Banks requesting that he ‘participates in a photo opportunity with mining equipment.’
The briefing we have been seeking with the Mayor for many months was to show him that we are on the same page when it comes to wanting a managed transition to a low carbon economy and to demonstrate that our North East mining operations are not incompatible with this journey.
One of the key principles of sustainability for our global climate and for our economy is to source the minerals that the country needs from as close to their point of use as we can – and while UK industry continues to need essential minerals like coal and fireclay for things like steel and cement manufacturing and to make bricks for house building, which it will for at least the next 10-15 years, there is no environmental sense in sourcing them from thousands of miles away when they are readily available at home.
We have invested hundreds of millions of pounds to build 10 onshore wind farms over the last 15 years and continue to invest in new renewable energy technologies. The Banks Group has more experience of being on “this journey into the new, low-carbon economy” than any other private North East business and it may well therefore have been useful for him to listen to what we had to say about the practicalities of our own journey.
Far from needing to invite us to “join us” on this journey, the Mayor would be better advised to join us and perhaps learn a few things from what we know that will be useful for all of us along the way.
The above text appeared in the letters page of The Journal as a letter from Mark Dowdall, our environment & community director, which was published on Thursday 19 March 2020. Many thanks to The Journal for giving our environment & community director this further right of reply.