Our business through the years
H J Banks and Company Ltd is formed
The scale and complexity of our sites increased over the years as the business grew. Starting with just a shovel and a wheelbarrow (and considerable amount of manual labour), we progressed to a dragline in 1977, and eventually to our first 500 tonne RH200 (purchased in 2001 for the Pegswood site in Northumberland) known fondly by staff as “Big Bertha” making us an operator with a multimillion pound fleet.
Since 1976 we have successfully developed, operated and restored over 115 surface mineral sites in a modern, safe, responsible and efficient way. Building on our 45 years of expertise in surface mining we now offer quarrying, plant maintenance, service and management and transport services to our customers.
We have a proud record of fully restoring every surface mine that we have worked and are committed to taking a development with care approach which means that we operate and restore all our sites in close consultation with the local community. We strive to deliver services to our customers that are safe, smart and sustainable way.
Banks Brother Transport begins operating
Although originally used to carry coal, our fleet has been contracted to transport a variety of other products over the years for a wide range of businesses. We’ve carried grain, trees, glass, scrap metal, beetroot (for a well know soup manufacturer), delivered military equipment, helped out in a national emergency and much more.
Today, Banks Transport operates a fleet of 13 HGV tipper wagons and in line with our development with care approach, all our drivers have received specialised training from Volvo to make sure they are driving the vehicles in the most fuel efficient manner possible, with a high regard for road safety and the communities they travel through. By providing this training we have successfully lowered our consumption of fuel by 20% across the commercial fleet.
During the earlier years, we only focused on surface mining. As our only business, we knew it well and it started giving us links into other business sectors. We began to see the potential and the similarities between coal removal and the regeneration of former mining areas.
Diversification became a natural progression for the business because of our future ambitions and the need to grow. We recruited more expertise, including professionals in planning and property who could help us expand by changing the way we approached obtaining planning permission and how we worked with communities. Since then, we’ve expanded our portfolio into areas such as renewable energy, and most recently, house building.
First planning permission secured for property project, Redworth
By the end of the eighties small steps were made into the property sector as we gained planning permission to build new homes in the grounds of Redworth Hall in County Durham and other small schemes.
To date, we have successfully achieved planning permission for over 11,000 homes resulting in over 5,000 new homes so far, which have been built on land that we have developed. We have an overall 100% planning success rate in the last ten years.
We now develop sites ranging from around 5 acres to sites of more than 300 acres, working closely with landowners, planning authorities, local communities, house builders and land agents. Our goal is to be the developer of choice for landowners and communities alike.
Development with care is trademarked
Building and maintaining good relationships and partnerships in communities has always been a major in the strength and success of our business.
We believe that when we develop projects that can change the environment or a community, it is our responsibility to make sure that our developments are well planned and developed in collaboration with the environment, our people, business partners and the local community in mind to maximise the benefits of our work for everyone and leave a long-lasting positive legacy wherever possible.
Diversification into renewables
After the turn of the millennia, we realised that concern about climate change and future sources of energy meant that we needed to diversify as a business once again in order to meet the future energy needs of society. Talk about moving away from fossil fuels as the driver for the world’s energy sources made us realise we needed to embrace the way the energy market was developing and adapt to it.
We looked at a range of different technologies including offshore wind, tidal, deep geothermal and solar. However, it was onshore wind that really played to our skill set. In 2006, we formally set up Banks Renewables and began to invest heavily in site finding and developing land for onshore wind farms.
First wind farm, West Durham begins generating electricity
Our outstanding team were able to adapt their skills across the business and our first successful application was for West Durham Wind Farm, which was constructed and generating electricity by 2009, consisting of 12 turbines in total. This was a huge step forward towards becoming a well- known independent owner and operator in the onshore wind energy industry.
Since then, we have developed, constructed, operated and sold a number of onshore wind farms and we currently have eleven operational onshore wind farms across Scotland and the north of England. We have planning permission for 307MW of electricity and a further 580MW in the planning system.
Construction begins on Northumberlandia
As part of a planning application for a new surface mine at Shotton in Northumberland, we decided to create something unique and adopted a “Restoration First” strategy to the project, utilising an extra piece of land donated by the landowner Blagdon Estate. The project team approached world-renowned artist Charles Jencks to design the new landmark feature.
The outcome of the design process was Northumberlandia, a reclining female figure set into the local landscape and built from carefully selected material taken from the surface mine that would become the world’s largest human landform. Northumberlandia was officially opened on 3rd September 2012 by HRH The Princess Royal.
The project garnered significant local, national and international interest and quickly became a major regional tourist attraction. Northumberlandia welcomes over 100,000 visitors per year and has won tourism awards and regularly appears in the media as a great place to visit. Responsibility for managing the landform park is now with The Land Trust.
New headquarters – Inkerman House opens its doors
More than 100 staff from our West Cornforth and Tow Law offices came together to work from the new Meadowfield office and we have been there ever since. This was a huge step for us bringing various departments and teams together to one location on 25,000 square foot of purpose built contemporary office space.
The office was designed with the principles of sustainable development in mind and includes features such as the provision of rainwater harvesting and re-use, built-in recycling facilities and modern energy and water management systems.
It was our honour to welcome Prince Edward to our new offices, and we were extremely grateful that he took the time to help us mark this important landmark in the company’s development by officially opening our new head office `Inkerman House`.
Penny Hill Solar Farm receives planning permission
The UK Government set ambitious targets for renewable energy generation to ensure the country meets its net zero targets and combats climate change. In order to support those targets and help improve the UK’s energy security, new renewable infrastructure and generating facilities must be developed. We understood the challenges facing onshore wind farm development, we therefore decided to look into solar energy. By choosing electricity generated from solar technology and providing energy storage facilities we understood that we could help ensure the security of our electricity supply, support the UK’s energy targets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions whilst protecting and promoting local wildlife.
Our first planning application for a solar farm was successfully developed and approved for a site near Rotherham. After undergoing a detailed land search, the site was identified as having the best opportunity to create a solar farm that links directly to nearby electricity substation whilst creating a safe place where nature and wildlife could flourish.
Construction begins on Kype Muir Wind Farm, our largest onshore wind farm
Construction on our flagship onshore wind farm Kype Muir began in 2017 and it started generating clean, green, renewable electricity in May 2019. The 26 turbine site is located approximately 5km south of the town of Strathaven and represents a true partnership which sees local communities take their own share of the wind farm revenues to invest in their local area tackling the issues that matter to them.
Connect2Renewables is a partnership between Banks Renewables, South Lanarkshire Council and local communities created to maximise economic benefits for local people and local businesses. Kype Muir Wind Farm has generated local development and construction contracts worth £38.9M and has a lifetime economic impact of £66.7M in the local area. This is development with care in action.
Banks Plant Solutions is formed
Banks Plant Solutions was initially created to provide plant equipment services, maintenance and management for services for our mining business and also for other businesses across the North East of England, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. Our experienced and skilled mobile plant and equipment engineering team has gained extensive experience with many original equipment manufacturers’ through Banks mining including Caterpillar, Komatsu, Volvo, and JCB. Our team regularly work on equipment ranging from large 500 tonne hydraulic excavators to small ancillary plant.
We developed a training academy to help train and ensure continuous improvement and access to a skilled team of plant mechanics. We converted facilities at our Thrislington depot into a new classroom and conference facility that acts as a dedicated base for its plant mechanic traineeships and upskilling programmes with successful candidates being offered longer-term training programmes to develop their technical skills.
Coal Mining extraction concludes
Since 1976 our business helped the UK meet its demand for energy through the supply of coal, at a time when greener sources of energy generation were not available or practically viable. We provided locally sourced coal at world-class standards. But, the way the UK sourced its energy was changing and so was our business and in 2021 our final three coal mining sites at Bradley, Brenkley Lane and Shotton closed.
We are proud to say that during our mining operations we worked 115 sites remaining committed to our promise of restoring and landscaping every mine to an even better standard than we received it. Our coal mining operations extracted millions of tonnes of coal helping to heat UK homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. Our work provided thousands of local jobs and awarded millions of pounds in grant funding to local community groups from the Banks Community Fund.
Diversification into housebuilding – Banks Homes is formed
2023 saw us take the next logical step on our journey so far, setting up the dedicated regional housebuilding arm of our business, Banks Homes. Banks Homes will focus on sites of all sizes across our native North East England and Yorkshire.
We wasted no time in getting started. In our first year, we started work at the prestigious Mount Oswald development in Durham City with an exclusive collection of four, five-and one six-bedroomed luxury forever homes. The second site will see us start building up to 150 high quality new homes on a seven-hectare site at Station Road in West Rainton.
Plus we submitted our first planning application as Banks Homes in Yorkshire, with proposals to build 65 new high-quality sustainable homes in the North Yorkshire village of Hambleton.
This is only the beginning.