Development Above Mine Workings
27th February 2020
The legacy of former underground coal workings impacts many regions of the UK. Shallow abandoned mine workings can be an unexpected constraint for any new development. If you are in the preliminary stages of your planned build, then this article is a must-read for you. We share some useful and freely available links to determine whether you need to consider completing a Coal Mining Risk Assessment.
For many, the potential risk to a planned build from abandoned mine workings may only come to light through a Local Planning Authority submission. The LPA will consult geologists and experts at the Coal Authority.
Where there is a potential risk to a proposed site, the LPA will request a Coal Mining Risk Assessment.
Where to Start?
The Coal Authority website is a useful starting point. The Coal Authority have published a free to use interactive map. The map will tell you if your site lies within a coal mining reporting area and/or a Development High Risk Area. The latter will tell you that you may have a problem that requires further consideration. The interactive map can also be used to establish whether your development is impacted by the presence of old mine shafts and adits.
Similarly, the British Geological Survey (BGS) website also offer a free to use geological map. This map allows you to gain an understanding of the soils, rocks and features anticipated beneath your development site.
TOP TIP – Search the Internet!
In addition to the above, details of local coal fields including historical information and records may be available for your area.
For instance, typing “Durham Coal Fields” into a search engine directs you to the Durham Mining Museum website.
A wealth of interesting factual information can be found here relating to historical coal mining.
In conclusion, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together yourself is not recommended. This should be completed by a Chartered Geologist who is qualified to make the assessment.
Northpoint has completed numerous Coal Mining Risk Assessment for a number of residential and commercial developments. We gather all available information from the Coal Authority and BGS records to establish what depths beneath the ground coal seams are present. More critically we determine whether these coal seams have been “worked” and whether these pose a risk to your proposal.
When Northpoint completes a Coal Mining Risk Assessment, there are normally three areas of concern we consider. These include:
- Firstly, determining the presence, depth and thickness of abandoned mines
- Secondly, locating the presence and condition of mine entries such as shafts
- Thirdly, assessing risks posed to the development from hazardous mine gases