Coal mining title deed covenants and legal requirements

How to deal with covenants and legal requirements contained in title deeds which refer to the Coal Authority and its predecessors.

If you wish to find out information about a property use the Land Registry online service.

Title deed covenants

Structural precautions

Some title deeds have structural precaution covenant clauses which require the approval of plans and specifications. These were imposed in conveyances by the National Coal Board or British Coal Corporation, examples of these clauses are:

Written approval will no longer be given and any interested party can rely upon the following:

“In respect of any building or other works for which the Authority’s approval (as successor to the National Coal Board/British Coal) to plans and specifications is required in accordance with one of the examples, the Authority’s approval shall be deemed to have been given if:

  1. such building or other works are carried out and completed in accordance with the Building Regulations 2000

  2. (if the building or other works are not subject to the Building Regulations 2000) such building or other works have been designed, carried out and completed in accordance with (insofar as the risk of mining subsidence can have been reasonably foreseen) the best available techniques not entailing excessive cost for minimising damage caused by subsidence”

Any interested party can also rely on the above in circumstances where any work was carried out without the prior approval of the Authority/National Coal Board/British Coal.

Sale of mining features

There are a large number of conveyances or transfers which have clauses that relate to the sale of tips, shafts, drifts and adits. These often require buyers and lessees to perform the raft of covenants in the original sale document relevant to these features with either British Coal or the National Coal Board. As of the Coal Industry Act 1994 these covenants were passed to the Coal Authority through restructuring schemes.

To comply with these clauses when completing a transfer or lease you can provide the Coal Authority with:

  • Deed of Covenant in favour of the Coal Authority and
  • certified copy of the transfer or lease

This is as an alternative to joining the Coal Authority as a party to each transfer or lease, and for the Authority to be provided with a properly executed duplicate of them.

The covenant in favour of the Coal Authority should be:

“The [Transferee/Lessee] to the intent and so as to bind (so far as practicable) the [conveyed land] and any part or parts thereof respectively into whosesoever hands the same may come and to benefit and protect any mines and minerals in which the Coal Authority has any interest and which provide subjacent or lateral support for the [conveyed land] or any part or parts thereof hereby covenants with the Coal Authority that the Transferee will at all times hereafter perform and observe the restrictions and stipulations contained in [the Fourth Schedule to a Conveyance dated [here include the date and parties to the original sale by British Coal/National Coal Board/Coal Authority]]”

Restrictions on the use of land

Any other questions about titles to land and property which include covenants imposed by the Authority or its predecessors should be made in writing to the Head of Property. The date and parties to any document imposing such covenants must be quoted.

The Coal Authority,
200 Lichfield Lane,
NG18 4RG

Exception and reservation of coal and other minerals

If the title deed of your land has an exception and reservation of mines and minerals in favour of British Coal or the National Coal Board and you are concerned about it you should:

  • obtain a mining report for the property
  • check the report to be aware of possible future underground mining

An example of an exception and reservation:

“All interests of British Coal/National Coal Board in any mines, beds and seams of coal and other minerals in or under [the conveyed land] together with all necessary rights powers and easements for searching, for winning, working, getting and carrying away by underground operations only the said coal and other minerals and any other coal or other minerals in which British Coal/National Coal Board has an interest including the right to drive occupy and use roadways and other works in the strata under or adjacent to the [conveyed land] and the right to let down the surface of the [conveyed land] and any building structure or works now or hereafter erected, constructed, placed or laid on or in the [conveyed land] without any obligation to leave subjacent or lateral support for the [conveyed land] or any such building, structure or works and without liability (except as provided by the Coal Mining (Subsidence) Act 1957) to make good or pay compensation for any damage or loss whatsoever caused directly or indirectly by or in consequence of any mining operations under or adjacent to the [conveyed land] carried out by British Coal/National Coal Board or by any other person whether before or on or after the date of this Conveyance”.

The right to claim compensation for damage caused to the surface by lawful coal mining operations is now included in the Coal Mining (Subsidence) Act 1991

In a limited number of cases, land was sold by British Coal/National Coal Board subject to similar terms but purporting to exclude remedies which would otherwise be available under the 1957 Act. The land sold subject to such provisions was generally considered to be more susceptible to coal mining subsidence due to the presence of either mining features (mine shafts, drifts/adits) or due to known or suspected shallow coal workings. Land owners should take such matters into consideration prior to carrying out any works on such land.

Mining leases

The title deeds to your property may be subject to mining leases given to colliery companies prior to the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act of 1946. These leases allowed the companies to mine coal. The expression “coal” included not only bituminous coal, cannel coal and anthracite but also other minerals and substances if they were comprised in any such leases provided they were in existence as at 1 January 1939. Such Leases may now be the Coal Authority’s title to minerals.

The policy set by the Coal Authority is to not release land from these mining leases.

Further information

If the Land Registry online service cannot provide you with relevant deeds or documents the Coal Authority can on request search its records. Please refer to our services information for prices and contact information. It is important to note that the Coal Authority will only provide copies of documents and will not provide property/legal advice in relation to land ownership matters

No advice or comment on a claim to mineral ownership can be offered by the Coal Authority.