Coal mining was rife from the early 1700’s with the industry only scaling back in the mid 1900’s – unsurprisingly this has left many areas where the ground has been excavated or mined for coal. whilst a lot of mining took place in large collieries and pits, so too did many local pits and small mines spring up.
This is also true in Pembrokeshire, in fact, its true for most of Pembrokeshire. Fortunately people tend to be sensible about these sort of things and do not build houses on top of coal pits. However, it is standard procedure for a coal mining search to be carried out when purchasing a property to locate any mines within a certain proximity (usually 25 metres) of the property. The search is now commonly part of an environmental search that provides a certificate as to the areas of concern identified. In the case of Pembrokeshire there are many, many areas where the property will be identified as being a coal mining affected area and further action should be carried out. Sometimes the report is quite effective with Further Action being positively screamed out of the page, of course this is later followed by details on how, for a moderate fee, the further action can be carried out and a new certificate marked satisfied can be issued.
We do not wish to give the impression that there is never a problem, despite having been in the business for over 200 years and not having come across a property that has fallen into a coal mine, if a property is built over a coal mine, which hasn’t been filled properly, then structural or subsidence problems will inevitably occur.
The difficulty in these situations is that a property will be marked as being in an affected area even if there as an ancient surface dig for coal that would never have been more than a metre or so deep and located 25 meters from the property. the chance of this affecting a property is about the same as winning the lottery on consecutive weekends with 5 numbers on the midweek draw as a bonus!
Of course, having adopted the litigious way of life from our American cousins no one ever provides a categorical answer to certify that your property is as safe as, er… houses! And why would you when an answer of Further Action will cover you against any legal action whist providing a return for the money received?
The bottom line is this…
It is so unlikely that the house you are considering purchasing is situated over a mine, or so close to a mine that it would have a detrimental effect to the property or its structural integrity that the Coal Mining Subsidence Act 1991 provides full indemnity against a property suffering subsidence. Should a problem actually occur, the Act allows for the remedy of the situation without you having to even notify your insurance company or Mortgage Lender!! Now that’s confidence.
So when your solicitor tells you that it has been recommended that further action be taken to ascertain if the property in question is close to a mine, please do not panic, we would hate for someone to miss out on a dream home for the sake of over cautiousness.