A war of words has broken out between the North of Tyne mayor and a mining firm.

Jamie Driscoll and Banks Mining have become embroiled in a row, after the mayor used his column in The Journal last week to oppose their hugely controversial plans to dig for coal in County Durham, Newcastle, and Northumberland.

The Durham-based developer hit back by accusing the Labour figurehead of “parroting wildly inaccurate platitudes” and refusing to meet with the firm.

Mr Driscoll, however, says he has twice spoken directly to Banks and has urged them to invest more in renewable energy sources.

Banks owns the Bradley mine near Dipton, where Extinction Rebellion staged massive protests last month over expansion plans, and also wants to dig opencast mines at Druridge Bay in Northumberland and Dewley Hill in Newcastle.

Extinction rebellion protesters outside Bradley opencast mine (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

In response to his newspaper column, Banks claimed that the mayor “refuses to meet with us or with our 250 employees, whose future careers he wants to cast on the scrap heap”.

 Mark Dowdall, the company’s environment and community director, added: “If, as the Mayor blithely states (without bothering to back up his claim with any facts) ‘we don’t need the coal’, why is the UK continuing to import over 90% of the country’s coal from Russia, USA, Colombia and Australia, a proportion which in 2018 amounted to ten million tonnes?”

Mr Driscoll, who was recently criticised for his record on fighting climate change, responded: “Climate change is too serious to put in a box marked “too difficult”. I’ve had two face to face conversations with Banks representatives.

“In the first we both acknowledged and accepted that I was never going to support the extraction of fossil fuels.

“I was told that Banks invest in renewable energy, and I’d encourage them to diversify more of their investment into that sector, which is the future.