County Durham-headquartered property and energy firm The Banks Group has marked its 40th anniversary year by recording a strong rise in pre-tax profits.


The family-owned business has reported group profit before tax of £14m for the financial year ending on 1 October 2017, up from £6m in the previous financial year, thanks to strong returns across its three business areas.  Group sales rose to £95m, up from £74m last year.
Simon Fisher, group finance director at The Banks Group, says: “The Group’s overall performance for the year was much improved over the previous year, with all three of our business areas contributing well to this improvement.”
Banks Property increased its year-on-year sales by £1m, to £24m, and as well as progressing a growing number of projects around the North East, it also announced plans for its first residential property development in North Yorkshire, which will be a 130-home scheme to the south west of Harrogate.
Improvements in both demand for, and the price of, coal supported a strong recovery in the firm’s mining business, with turnover improving from £34m in 2016 to £53m in 2017, and its performance is expected to remain robust in the year to come.
Banks Mining is challenging through the High Court the decision by former Secretary of State Sajid Javid’s decision to reject its Highthorn surface mine planning application against the recommendation of the planning inspector appointed by the government to assess it.  The firm contends that the decision could have far-reaching, unintended consequences for hydrocarbon and mineral extraction industries and major transport infrastructure developments that could significantly impact on UK industry’s competitiveness.
Despite increasing available generating capacity from its wind farms, lower wind speeds together with lower commercial power prices meant that turnover for the firm’s renewable energy division fell by £1m, to £14m, compared to the previous financial year.
Banks Renewables’ Lambs Hill Wind Farm near Stockton began generating green electricity at the beginning of 2017, while in the following March, the business secured a transformational £210m funding package to support the construction and operation of three further onshore wind farms before the end of the decade with a combined generating capacity of 151MW of electricity.
Banks Renewables had seven operational onshore wind farms at the end of the 2017 financial year, a figure which has since risen to eight with the start of generation at the Moor House wind farm near Darlington in January this year.
Simon Fisher continues: “Adding the two onshore wind farms we’re currently building in Scotland to our portfolio will take our total generating capacity to over 220MW by spring next year.
“This is a landmark which will make a significant difference to sales and earnings from 2019 onwards, and reflects the importance being place by the board on our renewable energy programme.
“While the Government has announced plans to restrict the generation of electricity from coal from 2025, we are increasing our levels of business with other markets including industrial and household coal, and accordingly we will continue to bring further coal sites forward to meet this important demand.
“Our property division is developing a growing portfolio of high-quality sites which is intended to produce an improving sales profile and, while a degree of volatility in our markets should still be expected, we expect to see good progress continuing to be made.
“All our operations are specifically designed to bring a wide range of long-term benefits to the communities in which they’re based, in line with our Development With Care approach to our work, and we’re proud of the substantial ongoing contribution that our projects enable us to make to the excellent work of groups and good causes in these areas.”