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Company hits back at MP’s mine-ban calls

Gavin Styles, managing director at Banks Mining.
Gavin Styles, managing director at Banks Mining.

The company behind plans to open a surface mine in Northumberland has hit back at MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, after she called for a ban on this type of development.

Last week, we reported how the Berwick representative had written to Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire, asking the Government to change planning law to prohibit new opencast coal mines.

Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan

She said that opencast mining is incompatible with policy on climate change and ‘can have severe implications on areas of incredible natural beauty’.

In March, the then-Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, rejected Banks Mining’s Highthorn plans for a mine near to Widdrington and Druridge Bay.

The company has since said that it will challenge the decision in the High Court, especially after the proposal was backed by Northumberland County Council and a Government planning inspector.

And now, Banks has criticised Mrs Trevelyan’s call for a ban.

Gavin Styles, managing director at Banks Mining, said: “It is clear Mrs Trevelyan would rather the UK imported the coal it still requires to meet its industrial, household and electricity generation needs from overseas markets, instead of recognising the importance of domestic investment which enables skilled North East workers to extract indigenous supplies and put food on their tables.

“Banks Mining has been investing in Northumberland for four decades, with hundreds of jobs being created and still sustained as a result, and we remain keen to extend this commitment still further.

“We accept that there needs to be a stable transition to a low-carbon economy, and are already working successfully within the framework which is driving the phased reduction of coal from the electricity generating system, but there will remain a recognised need for coal during this phase-out period.

“It is only a few months since there was snow lying on the ground in Northumberland and elsewhere across the country, at which point around 25% of the electricity being used in the UK was being generated through the use of coal.

“The consequences of acting on Mrs Trevelyan’s ill-informed opinion would be to make us ever more reliant on energy imports, as well as more vulnerable to price rises and supply interruptions, the consequences of which will inevitably be rising prices for the consumer.

“In terms of Highthorn, we believe we have a strong legal case for overturning the ruling and are working to get a decision from the High Court on this as quickly as possible.

“The Highthorn scheme would see us create at least 100 full-time jobs on the site, invest £87million into the Northumberland economy, keep £200million within the UK economy by not importing coal, and make supply-chain contracts worth £48million available to locally-based businesses.”