County Durham-headquartered energy and property firm The Banks Group has reported a healthy set of results despite the impacts of the pandemic and a reduction in its coal mining operations during its last financial year.
The family-owned employer has reported combined profit after tax across all of its businesses of £15m for the financial year ending 27 September 2020, down from £18m in the previous financial year. Overall group sales of £96m were down from £109m in the previous period.
The Group’s renewable energy businesses delivered a record year and have significantly increased their pipeline of wind farm development sites, with a total potential additional capacity of over 400MW across five sites in southern Scotland.
In addition to new onshore wind farm projects, Banks is continuing to explore further renewable and flexible energy technologies including solar power, battery storage and flexible power generation to complement its existing infrastructure asset base.
The Group has continued to support local community groups and environmental projects by awarding almost £400,000 in grants from the funds linked to its different operational and planned developments.
Simon Fisher, group finance director at The Banks Group, says: “Despite the challenges posed in 2020, the Board continues to believe the business is in good shape to maximise the opportunities available from the markets in which we operate and for results to remain strong, although with some volatility.”
Banks Mining saw its turnover fall from £47m in 2019 to £30m last year as a result of the reduced availability of coal for sale, with the firm’s Shotton, Brenkley Lane and Bradley surface mines reaching the end of their operational lives.
The Group’s Renewables businesses enjoyed a record year, with combined sales improving from 43m in 2019 to £61m in 2020 on the back of the first full year of energy generation from the Kype Muir and Middle Muir wind farms in Scotland.
Banks Renewables’ total generation capacity now stands at 223MW, a figure which is set to increase with the commencement of construction of its Kype Muir Extension wind farm.
Banks Property’s year-on-year sales fell from £16m in 2019 to £2.5m last year due to delays in the realisation of property sales as a result of the impact of Covid-19, but future sales across the North East and Yorkshire are expected to lead to a strong recovery.
Simon Fisher continues: “As it is unlikely that approval will be granted for any future surface mines in the UK, our mining team is being redirected to explore other opportunities which will draw on the Group’s skills and experience in new areas of industrial support and mineral extraction, and we have some exciting prospects in place which we expect to see come to fruition in the coming months.
“We remain unique in using the revenues we have generated through our coal mining business to establish a strong renewable energy division supporting the UK’s transition to net zero carbon emissions which is continuing to go from strength to strength.
“Two of our planned onshore wind sites in southern Scotland with a potential combined capacity of around 170MW now have full planning consent and detailed development work is underway to bring these into operation in the coming years.
“Alongside our growing portfolio of onshore wind farms, we are also bringing forward planning applications for a number of new schemes around the UK which use renewable and flexible generation technologies.
“Our Barnsdale solar energy park in West Yorkshire won the backing of Leeds City Council’s planning committee earlier this month, and further similar projects are expected to follow in the near future.
“All the property sites we expected to sell in 2020 will come later, so while the nature of the development portfolio will involve volatility of revenues, a strong recovery in this business area is expected, especially with many sites in their later stages of development.
“All our operations have continued to bring a wide range of long-term local benefits to the communities in which they are based, in line with our Development with Care approach, and we are proud of the substantial continuing contribution that our schemes enable us to make to the excellent work of our local community groups and good causes, something which has been especially important over the last year.”