CNLIS warns coal mines may cause subsidence in half UK homes

Council for National Land Information Service has revealed almost half of the homes in Great Britain lie within former and current coal mining areas where there is a potential risk of subsidence.

The legacy of disused mining shafts and abandoned shallow underground workings can cause subsidence and fractures above and below the surface many years after mining ceased and the impact on the properties can be catastrophic.

However, properties throughout Britain are at risk of subsidence from not only man-made causes, such as coal mining activity, but natural causes like clay shrinkage, running sand, compressible and collapsible deposits, landslide activity and soluble rocks.

The insurance loss due to all forms of subsidence reached levels of £340 million this year and is expected to increase year on year, so CNLIS urges homebuyers to ensure that authoritative searches on coal mining and ground stability are carried out to identify if a property is at risk.

The Coal Authority and British Geological Survey have launched a new report, the Ground Stability Report, which combines authoritative information and knowledge on coal mining and natural ground stability. The report also includes information on Brine for purchasers of property in Cheshire. The report is available electronically via the National Land Information Services licensed channels.

Jan Boothroyd, deputy chief executive of CNLIS, says: “These findings are staggering. Subsidence is a serious problem for homeowners and with increased development on brownfield sites, the problem is only set to increase. Homeowners could lose out on thousands of pounds, and suffer severe disruption if potential problems are not identified prior to the purchase. These potential problems could easily be overlooked if an authoritative property search is not carried out.”

Joe Dearden, head of customers services at The Coal Authority, says: “Over 50,000 insurance claims are made by homeowners every year, which can take anything from one to three years to settle. Many of these problems could have been averted if buyers were properly informed.

“Homebuyers need to ensure that their solicitor carries out authoritative property searches to avoid the misery of subsidence damage.”