County Durham-headquartered renewable energy, property development and mining firm The Banks Group is making strong progress across all its business areas after more than doubling its operating profit over its latest financial year.
In the family firm’s first set of annual results since the closure of its coal mining operations, it has reported a combined operating profit of £36m across all its businesses for the financial year ending 30 September 2022, up from £18m the previous year.
Overall group sales for the year rose by around two-thirds, up to £112m from £67m in the previous period, and are expected to remain robust during 2023.
Since the end of its last financial year, the business has launched a dedicated regional housebuilding company, Banks Homes, which will see it building its own houses for the first time on sites of all sizes across North East England and Yorkshire.
Banks Homes operates independently from, but alongside, the company’s existing property development arm, Banks Property, and is looking to acquire sites from other developers as well as identify its own market opportunities.
Banks Property is continuing to work with many of the UK’s best-known housebuilders, as it has done successfully over the last 35 years, while work on Banks Homes’ first two projects, at Mount Oswald in Durham City and West Rainton in County Durham, is set to start later in the year.
Banks has also continued to support community groups and environmental projects across its operating areas during the year by awarding more than 140 community grants totalling over £664,000 from the funds linked to its different operational and planned developments.
Simon Fisher, group finance director at The Banks Group, says: “In line with our expectations, the performance of our business in 2022 was much stronger than the previous year, with all parts showing impressive growth compared to 2021.
“The Board believes that the Group is in an excellent position to maximise the opportunities available from the markets in which we operate and to achieve continuing profitable growth.”
As part of the development of its Kype Extension wind farm in South Lanarkshire, Banks Renewables recently completed the construction of its 100th wind turbine. Once operational, this latest site will bring the number of operating sites across the North of England and Scotland to eleven.
The Group significantly increased its pipeline of onshore wind farms under development through the year and has a potential additional capacity of over 400MW across four further sites in Scotland, with planning consent in place for the Lethans Wind Farm in East Ayrshire and the Mill Rig Wind Farm in South Lanarkshire.
Banks Renewables is also continuing to bring forward a range of flexible energy technologies, including solar energy, battery storage and flexible power generation.
It is currently progressing plans for a groundbreaking new green energy hub at the former Thorpe Marsh power station site near Doncaster, which includes what is thought to be the largest battery energy storage system currently being planned in the UK, and is also looking to develop a major new solar energy generation and battery energy storage project near Rotherham.
Banks Property’s year-on-year sales of land increased significantly from £3.7m in 2021 to £25.6m in 2022, with key projects in Durham City, Barnard Castle and Stockton-on-Tees being delivered.
The business is working on plans for a new integrated extension to the village of Eggborough in North Yorkshire which would include up to 1,500 energy efficient properties of all types, while it is also working on the residential redevelopment of the former Clydesdale Steelworks site in Glasgow through a scheme that would include up to 490 new homes.
Turnover from the firm’s minerals division more than doubled from £6.4m to £13.1m, with operations focussing primarily on its role as principal contractor at the Bantycock gypsum mine near Newark in Nottinghamshire on behalf of owners Saint Gobain Formula.
The Banks Group’s 2022 results are the company’s first that do not include any trading activities from coal mining, with production at its last coal mine having ceased in 2020.
Simon Fisher continues: “Availability from all our wind farms was good right through our financial year and we experienced much improved wind speeds compared to the previous period, as well as strong power prices.
“Development work has been proceeding apace to bring forward new wind farms in Scotland, as well as other renewable technologies, such as solar power, battery storage and small-scale flexible power generation, which complement the existing infrastructure asset base.
“Despite the welcome growth in revenues for our property business and the significant positive impact that we expect to see from Banks Homes in the coming years, it remains clear that current planning delays are holding back developments across the UK leading to shortages in land available for much-needed new homes.
“With our extensive experience in the property development sector, it was a logical step for us to start to build new, high-quality and sustainable homes ourselves by establishing our Banks Homes business, which will contribute directly to meeting the pressing need to improve and increase the housing supply across the North East and Yorkshire.
“Banks Homes is working independently of, but alongside, the existing operations of Banks Property, which is continuing to identify, promote and sell land for the development of new homes by many of the UK’s best-known housebuilders, as it has for more than 35 years.
“Our expert mining team is applying its class-leading skills to ensure a highly efficient and effective operation at the Bantycock gypsum mine and we are continuing to explore other opportunities for deploying the group’s expertise in managing similar projects.
“Our longstanding Development with Care approach remains absolutely central to our commercial success and enables us to deliver a wide range of tangible, long-term benefits to the communities in which we are working.”