AS many as 250 jobs could be lost at North-East mining company Banks.

Workers at the firm's Bradley surface mine, between Leadgate and Dipton, in County Durham, have been told up to a dozen jobs are expected to go at the site following Durham County Council's refusal of planning permission for an extension.

The company wanted to extract an extra 90,000 tonnes of coal for UK steel manufacturers and 20,000 tonnes of fireclay for brickmakers from an 18.5 hectare area.

The Northern Echo:

Thousands of people had objected to the proposal, including environmentalists from around the world.

The focus at Bradley now turns to landscaping and restoration.

Consultation is already underway on up to 24 job losses at Banks Mining’s Brenkley Lane surface mine near Newcastle.

And bosses warn – with no replacement mines currently permitted to replace Banks’ existing mines – a total of 250 skilled jobs in the region are at risk.

Managing director Gavin Styles says: “We have a highly skilled and dedicated workforce at our Bradley site, the great majority of whom live in surrounding communities, and they have done an exceptional job over the last two and a half years.

“I am hugely frustrated, angry and sad to have to tell my skilled, hard-working and loyal team at Bradley that we will no longer be able to employ all of them, even though there is still significant demand from British industry for the coal and fireclay that they produce.

“We have been continuing, without any support from the public purse, to invest in training resources which ensure our colleagues’ certifications remain fully up-to-date and transferable and will continue to do everything we possibly can to provide maximum support to all those affected by this demoralising situation.”

Banks accuses the Government of taking too long to decide whether its proposed Highthorn surface mine in Northumberland can go ahead, a project it says would see £100m invested in the region's economy.

And a planning application for its proposed Dewley Hill surface mine, west of Newcastle, is due to be considered by Newcastle City Council in the coming months.

Mr Styles added: “While British industry still needs coal, it is patently obvious that it is better for our climate and for our jobs to mine it here in the UK, rather than exporting our jobs and increasing global greenhouse gas emissions by relying even more on importing coal over thousands of miles from Russia, the USA and Colombia.

“We have continued to do everything we can to make the case for the approval of our Highthorn scheme and to make the consequences of the government’s failure to provide a timely decision on it crystal clear - but so far, it’s all been to no avail.

“By not making a decision on Highthorn, they are letting hundreds of people in the North East and their families down at the most difficult time imaginable – and with almost four million people already expected to be unemployed across the UK, this inaction represents a scandalous dereliction of duty.

"As a County Durham-based business, we remain proud to have invested consistently in North East England for more than four decades, employed thousands of excellent people during that time, given contracts to hundreds of local businesses and contributed millions of pounds to community projects across the region.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which will make the decision on the Northumberland site, said: “We’ll announce a decision on Highthorn as soon as possible. We can’t comment further on a live planning application.”