The legacy of coal mining since the industrial revolution has left abandoned mine shafts and tunnels across wide areas of the UK. Risks associated with historic mine workings include subsidence and the release of explosive methane gas. If you are planning a development in an area with a past history of mining, you may be required to produce a Coal Mining Risk Assessment (CMRA). Hydrogeo have completed many Coal Mining Risk Assessments for residential, commercial and industrial properties.
Why do I need a Coal Mining Risk Assessment?
Coalfields are divided into high and low risk areas. A high risk area is where there are hazards that are likely to affect a new development. Your local council will screen your site against coalfield plans which show these risks. For example, your site may have a coal seam directly beneath it, or shallow abandoned mine workings may be present below the site. Coal mining features may be out of sight, but they can still pose a risk to a development hundreds of years after mining has taken place.
If your site is in a high risk area, you need to send a Coal Mining Risk Assessment to your local council, along with your planning application. Local Authorities will not accept only a dataset from The Coal Authority – the data must be reviewed by a qualified person and cross checked with other evidence to provide a full risk assessment.
What is covered in a Coal Mining Risk Assessment?
Our Coal Mining Risk Assessments follow the template set out by the Coal Authority. They assess the following risks that coal mining can pose to a development:
- Recorded shallow mining
- Possible shallow mining
- Mine entries including shafts and tunnels
- Coal mining fissures
- Mine gas including methane and carbon dioxide
- Past recorded subsidence
- Past opencast mining
- The potential for future mining
For our reports Hydrogeo consult historical maps and documentation, geological and borehole data and the Coal Authority database. More complex sites require a visit to the offices of the Coal Authority to assess mining plans and records.
Many of the sites that Hydrogeo assess require no further action and are safe for development. If the Coal Mining Risk Assessment identifies a risk to a development, then it may be possible to alter the development to take into account the risk. A programme of site investigation can be completed in order to further assess or reduce the risk.
Why should I choose Hydrogeo?
The Coal Authority requires that the Coal Mining Risk Assessment is prepared by a suitably qualified ‘competent’ person with a recognised relevant qualification, sufficient experience in dealing with ground stability and mining legacy related issues, and holds membership of a relevant professional organisation.
At Hydrogeo we are a team of qualified geologists, hydrogeologists and contaminated land specialists with over 40 years of experience in geology, groundwater and contaminated land. All of our staff are either Fellows of the Geological Society or Chartered Geologists. Hydrogeo therefore meet the requirements for the preparation of a Coal Mining Risk Assessment.
Hydrogeo have undertaken Coal Mining Risk Assessments for a wide range of clients and sites from single plot housing developments to large commercial sites. We have carried out mining risk assessments across England, Scotland and Wales and have experience in all major coal fields, from Brora to Bristol.
The findings of our reports are presented clearly and concisely. We can recommend whether further action is required, detailing next steps such as layout rearrangement or site investigation. Alternatively, a site may be found to be stable and suitable for development. We have good working relationships and liaise closely with local authorities and The Coal Authority, saving you time and money.
Information and Guidance
The Coal Authority formalised their requirements in relation to planning applications (except householder developments) in England, Scotland and Wales and introduced new terminology relating to Coal Mining Development Areas in July 2011. The new terminology includes Coal Mining Development High Risk Areas. Requirements are included in the English, Welsh and Scottish planning policies. Essentially, it must be ensured that a site is safe, stable and suitable for development.
High Risk Areas are defined as areas, based upon Coal Authority records where land stability and other safety risks are associated with historical coal mining activities. They include areas of known/suspected shallow coal mining, recorded mine/adit entries and areas of former surface extraction.
The Coal Authority is a statutory consultee for any planning application within a Coal Mining Development High Risk Area.