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ADDRESSING HOUSING MARKET PROBLEMS CAUSED BY DISUSED MINESHAFTS

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Nigel Griffiths, minister with responsibility for coal liabilities, ...
Nigel Griffiths, minister with responsibility for coal liabilities,

today welcomed the launch of a new added value report service aimed

at addressing housing market problems caused by disused mineshafts.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Coal Authority in Edinburgh, Mr

Griffiths also praised the organisation's role in managing the

environmental impacts of coal mining such as mine discharges and

subsidence.

Mr Griffiths said:

'With its long and proud history, coal mining has left a complex and

varied physical legacy. In the Coal Authority we have an organisation

ideally equipped to shoulder the responsibility associated with our

mining heritage.'

Next week the authority will begin offering an interpretive report

service which will help the public take a more informed view on the

potential influence of disused mineshafts which have been having a

blighting effect on property prices in former coal mining areas,

particularly in parts of the West Midlands.

The minister added:

'The Coal Authority has worked hard to develop this new product as

well as a specially tailored insurance product which will accompany

every residential mining report. I am grateful to the authority and

the other Mineshafts Working Group members for the part they have

each played in delivering these positive responses to a difficult

issue.

'The DTI has worked hard to focus minds in such a way that the

perceived threat of mineshafts, in particular in the perceptions of

potential buyers, is put in the proper perspective.'

Notes

* The coal authority is a non-departmental public body sponsored by

the DTI. Its principal responsibilities are:

- Licensing coal mining operations and granting leases to exploit

coal reserves.

- Addressing subsidence damage not the responsibility of coal mining

companies.

- Management of property and the historic legacy of past coal mining.

- Providing geological and other information on past and future coal

mining.

* In the context of house purchases in coal mining areas it is

routine for conveyancing solicitors to commission from the Coal

Authority a coal mining search report. When a report discloses the

existence of a disused coal mineshaft within 20 metres of a property

a sale can be jeopardised and/or a property can be devalued. This

more commonly occurs in areas where intensive shallow workings in the

19th century were followed by urban development, notably,

Stoke-on-Trent and Walsall.

* Disused mineshafts very rarely cause actual property damage and

where they do the Coal Authority, funded by the DTI are obliged to

carry out repairs at no cost to the householder.

* The interpretive report will provide more detailed analysis and

advice about mine entries including a risk assessment as to whether,

in the expert opinion of the Coal Authority, the main building of the

property is inside or outside the possible zone of ground movement

from any reported mine entry.

* The insurance cover will be provided to owners of residential

property to mitigate against any loss of value, up to a maximum of

£20,000, attributable to any material change of the mining

information revealed in any subsequent mining report on the same

property.

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