Now that title got you excited didn’t it?
Its staggering how many homes are affected. 29% of all homes are in coalfield areas and that doesn’t include the other minerals that have been dug out of the ground in the last 1,000 years – salt, tin, chalk, brine…the list goes on.
Britain’s Industrial Revolution was underpinned by coal mining as this fuel drove our economy for hundreds of years. We’re only just ridding ourselves of King Coal preferring cleaner energy solutions.
There are two types of mines at play here. For the past hundred years, we’ve had deep mining where considerable volumes of coal are extracted deep underground. These mines have been well documented by the Coal Association and monitored too.
The main issue here for property owners is subsidence. If you remove a large chunk of the earth deep underground, it will cause movement above. This creates subsidence and claims approaching £10 million have been paid out in the last two years.
The second type of mining is altogether different, dangerous and costly to homeowners. That’s the impact of shallow mining which has occurred unregulated and unrecorded for hundreds of years prior to the deep extraction processes. Some of these mines are a mere metre or so below you. Almost 3 million homes are situated above these identified mines. How many are above anonymous mines, is not known.
The problem for owners here is one word. Sink holes. You’ve seen these in the news. Photos of large holes in the ground where the top soil or road tarmac has just fallen in creating a cavernous hole in the ground. Rarely do actual properties fall into sink holes, although that does happen, the biggest issue for homeowners is access. Each year more than 500 sink holes appear across the UK blocking roads and access to properties. A huge sink hole in St Albans in 2015 denied access to four owners for over two years.
Let’s not forget the entrance to mines. These mine entry points can be vertical shafts which haven’t been capped correctly or documented at all and can proliferate in areas know for mining.
The lesson for mortgage advisers is to know your area and be able to briefly explain the need for a search. Conveyancers will deal with this, naturally and the Law Society has just opened this up to outside firms who have speeded up the process considerably.
And you may wonder where your next door neighbour’s cat has gone.