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POSTED 07 June 2016 General

Coal Mining Searches – Do I Need One?

What is a coal-mining search? 

In many areas of the country, past or current coal mining activity can affect property sales. Coal mining activity can sometimes make the ground that houses are built on unstable and this can have many complications which could have a knock on effect on the value of your home when you come to sell it.

In well-known coal mining areas, a coal mining search is essential prior to the completion of a house purchase and usually conducted by a solicitor or conveyancer before you buy a property.

Although coal mining is a lot less prevalent nowadays, there are still activities such as open-cast mining that is still carried out in certain areas, especially evident in areas such as Yorkshire and the North of England, particularly Barnsley and Pontefract, which were famous mining communities.

coal-mining searches 

Mining searches across the UK

If you’re unsure whether your house has been built over the top of, or near to, an old coal mining shaft, having a coal mining search is a wise option. The effects of being built on an old coal mine can have environmental consequences which you need to be aware of as a home owner.

Mining searches UK wide are very popular as so many areas of the UK were mined for coal and leave no existing traces behind; this includes South Wales, Yorkshire and Northumberland. For this reason, it’s a good idea to check with a coal mining search.

A mining search enables you to find out whether a property has been subject to a coal mining related subsidence damage notice or claim since 1984. This is useful to indicate whether your property could be at future risk and affect any plans you have to renovate or change the property in the future.

To find out whether or not you need a mining search use the Coal Authority’s Search Service who hold a national database on all the coal mining areas of the country, these usually cost around £35 and can help tell you whether or not your property is affected by past, future or current coal mining activity. You can also access a ground stability report which reveals:

  • mine entries within 20 metres of a property’s boundaries
  • subsidence claims made about brine pumping from Cheshire salt mines
  • past mining geneology 
  • adits and mine shafts 
  • gas emissions from coal mines
  • additional coal mining hazards reported in the area
  • past, present and future coal mining

Can I benefit from the results of a coal mining search?

Yes, as the owner of a property that is found to be property damaged by coal mining, you may be able to claim for any potentially dangerous methane gas emissions or subsidence damage if there is found to be:

  • structural damage to your house, which can start with cracked plaster and sticking doors
  • ground collapse or other damage to your land

You can submit a Subsidence Damage Claim and will be entitled to certain benefits from the government which include repair or depreciation compensation payments under the 1991 Coal Mining Subsidence Act.

What is Brine Subsidence?

If you live in Cheshire your property could be affected by brine subsidence, which is a result of the Cheshire salt mines. The brine pumped into the area can affect ground stability, causing cavities. As a result there is a designated compensation property area.

This can be picked up as part of the mining search although most properties found to be affected by it are within the designated compensation area.

Results of Coal mining searches

A solicitor or conveyancer will usually do a coal mining search if you’re buying land or property in a recognised affected area and advise on the results.

The results are useful, even if nothing is found, to supply to your mortgage lender as assurance of the stability of the land.

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