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Planning minister visits Shotton surface mine

Banks Group host visit from government minister Bob Neill MP at Northumberland surface mine

THE economic, employment and community contributions made to the Northumberland region by its surface mining industry have been under discussion during a visit to the North East by a government minister.

Regional firm Banks Mining, part of the Banks Group, hosted planning minister Bob Neill MP on a visit to the company’s Shotton site in south-east Northumberland, to allow him to see for himself how a modern surface mine operates and to look at the positive impact it has on the surrounding area.

During the visit, which was organized in partnership with industry trade body Coalpro, the minister attended a lunch with representatives of local communities which have benefitted from the operation of Banks sites across the area over the last 30 years.

Mr Neill visited five former mining sites on the Blagdon Estate that had been fully restored and landscaped by Banks after the completion of coaling, and he also took a tour of the emerging Northumberlandia landform, which is being formed to the west of Cramlington from around 1.5 million tonnes of soil and clay taken from the nearby Shotton surface mine.

Banks and the Blagdon Estate are investing around £2.5 million in the creation of the landform, which will form the centrepiece of a new 14.5ha public park that will open to the public in 2013.

‘The mining industry continues to be a major contributor to the North East economy and we wanted to demonstrate this to the minister at a time when we feel there is an unfair presumption against surface mining within the present planning system,’ explained Mark Dowdall, environment and community director with the Banks Group.

‘We support the Government’s plans to streamline the UK planning system, which is aimed at delivering much-needed economic growth through sensitively designed private sector development.

‘Our North East surface mines currently employ in excess of 200 people on site, as well as supporting other off-site roles within our organization, and we estimate that they contribute more than £20 million each year to the regional economy.’

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