High Rainfall Leads to Increase in Land Subsidence

Is your land over a former coal mine and experiencing subsidence? - Tracey Jackson MRICS FAAV, Associate and Chartered Surveyor with H&H Land and Property looks at the repercussions of recent reports on subsidence.

Many areas in the UK were built on what was a successful coal industry. However, as mines have closed, the land has been reinstated and put back in to agriculture. In most cases, this has been without issue, however, recent heavy rainfall has resulted in an increase of instability over some former mine workings. It is critical landowners follow some specific guidelines if they want to seek compensation or receive assistance.

Tracey Jackson MRICS FAAV

Tracey Jackson MRICS FAAV

“The coal authority has a six year cut off in which they can act, from when subsidence occurs or a hazard is identified. Anything older they won’t accept liability,” explains Tracey Jackson. The damage must be recent or be reoccurring to enable a claim to be submitted. This must be stressed, and so if you suspect any hazard or subsidence, act immediately.

“There are a range of hazards that should be considered - some very apparent, such as a collapsed mine or mine entrance or gas or water coming from an abandoned mine. But some hazards may be less visible, for example, impeded drainage, subsidence or a small area of ground collapsing e.g. sinkhole. Damage could also result in structural damage to a house or farm buildings. If you suspect any movement, its best to report your observations and have it checked out.

“If an incident is reported as a hazard, the coal authority aim to have someone on site within three hours to carry out an inspection and decide on the course of action to be taken. Remediation works generally happen within 24 hours. A hazard is usually an incident that poses a threat to people or livestock, which explains the urgency of the response. It is worth noting that agent’s fees will be covered by The Coal Authority in the event that the damage is found to be their responsibility, so do take professional advice to get matters reported in the appropriate manner and in negotiating the appropriate remediation works and/or compensation.

“Generally, only landowners are able to claim for damaged property,” adds Tracey. “The only case in which a tenant can claim is if they are obligated for repair and maintenance under the tenancy agreements. So, if you are a tenant, please check your agreement carefully.”

It should be said that the increase in rainfall and water logging has washed out land in many areas, and in most cases, this is not related to a former coal mine – landowners are normally aware of the former use of their land. The majority of coal mining works in Cumbria took place around the North-West of the Lake District National park in places such as Maryport, Workington and Whitehaven. So if you have a problem on your land and are unsure as to the cause it is worth looking into more detail.

HH Land

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