In UK property law, there is a general presumption that a property owner owns the ground beneath their land down to the centre of the earth.  However, in practice it isn’t that simple.

In the UK, some of the minerals in the ground are owned by the state, and land is often affected by a mineral reservation which means that the ownership of minerals was separated from ownership of the surface at some time in the past.  When it comes to minerals, our Chartered Minerals Surveyors are experts in identifying who owns what beneath the surface.

If a property is subject to a mineral reservation, it means someone other than the landowner owns some of the minerals beneath the property.

A mineral reservation can be very wide ranging and encompass virtually everything beneath the surface, or it may be very limited in effect and relate to only one type of mineral, or it can be anywhere between these extremes.  Mineral reservations can affect the value of property to a greater or lesser extent.  Our Chartered Minerals Surveyors have decades of experience in interpreting mineral reservations and explaining their effect on a property or development proposals.

If a property is subject to a mineral reservation, there is a possibility that development on the surface might require foundations to be excavated into minerals which belong to the mineral owner.  If the mineral owner has not given permission, this is called a mineral trespass.

In such a case, the mineral owner may require payment in return for giving permission to disturb their minerals. This can be a complex problem to resolve and our Chartered Minerals Surveyors are experts in interpreting mineral reservations to determine what rights the mineral owner actually has in the context of the site geology and are skilled in negotiating appropriate financial settlements.

Wardell Armstrong is mineral agent for the Crown Estate and the Crown Estate Scotland and looks after their onshore mineral portfolio. We are also managing agent for Mines Royal (naturally occurring gold and silver).

Further information about the onshore mineral portfolios can be found on the respective websites:

The National Planning Policy Framework published in 2012 advised planning authorities to identify Mineral Safeguarding Areas (MSA) to ensure that finite sources of important minerals are not sterilised unnecessarily by built development.

For a planning application in a MSA, a developer must submit a mineral resource assessment with the application to demonstrate that the site complies with the local planning policy on mineral safeguarding.  This requires knowledge of geology, mineral extraction and planning policy, which are brought together by our minerals surveyors and planners.

A client who wants an expert witness needs the best – an expert in their field and experienced in giving complex evidence under pressure in court.

Our most senior Chartered Minerals Surveyors who provide expert witness services typically have over 25 years’ experience and have appeared as an objective expert witness at public inquiries, in court, and in mediations.  They know that credibility as a witness is of paramount importance and they achieve this by utilising their expertise and observing the rules of objectivity and impartiality in their evidence.

Almost every region of the UK has in the past been subject to the working of minerals underground. Shallow mine workings and historic mine entries can present a risk to public safety and a hazard to existing or new development potentially adversely impacting the stability of surface structures and infrastructure.

Wardell Armstrong has extensive experience in the investigation, evaluation and treatment of shallow mine workings and mine entries. Through the creation of bespoke databases containing information of former mining features, we advise owners and developers to understand the impact and mitigation options associated with former mine entries and workings.

Wardell Armstrong can provide an experienced team of mineral surveyors and GIS specialists who are familiar with mineral title deeds and have access to modern mapping software that meets Land Registry requirements. This exercise would usually include an initial assessment, a summary of each title deed which would form the basis of a GIS dataset.  The deed plans would be digitised and transposed onto digital OS data.  These shape files could then be electronically transferred to the Land Registry.

We can also monitor proposed built developments across clients’ ownership to highlight potential minerals encroachment and opportunities for generating revenue for the mineral owner.

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