Durham University students get low-down on Banks’s green business

Chris Kelsey (centre) with some of the Durham University undergraduates who attended the event
Chris Kelsey (centre) with some of the Durham University undergraduates who attended the event
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A North East firm’s work to adapt its business model in light of climate change has been under the spotlight at Durham University.

Chris Kelsey from mining, property and renewable energy firm the Banks Group, spoke to 70 geography, natural sciences and social science undergraduates about the ways in which the family-owned firm has moved into the renewable energy market and adapted its working practices to minimise their environmental impact.

Early recognition of the impact of the factors surrounding climate change has enabled us to shape our operations in a range of environmentally responsible ways.

Chris Kelsey

The Durham business was originally set up in 1976 by founder and chairman Harry Banks OBE, and it has since operated and fully restored 110 surface mines across northern England and Scotland, with more than 200 people still employed by its mining business.

In the early 2000s, the Banks Group set up a new renewable energy business, with a view to investing revenues that have been earned through its mining and property arms into establishing the firm as a leader owner/operator in the UK onshore wind industry.

Since then, it has built eight wind farms across northern England and Scotland with a total green energy generation capacity of 100MW, and has just secured a new £210m investment package to fund the construction of its next three onshore schemes, including the six turbine Moor House wind farm near Darlington.

“Early recognition of the impact of the factors surrounding climate change has enabled us to shape our operations in a range of environmentally responsible ways, including obtaining planning permissions for over 330MW of renewable energy, signing up to the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme and using technology and efficient working practices wherever possible to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Chris.

“Onshore wind is recognised as being the most effective technology in delivering carbon reduction targets for the UK at the lowest cost for the consumer, and we firmly believe it has a central role to play in the UK’s future energy mix, as well as in generating more of the energy that we all use via renewable means.

“We’re pleased to have been able to share our practical experience of factoring all these issues into our operations with the undergraduates.”

The event also included details of how a number of North East public and private sector organisations are responding to climate change.