By Legal Futures Associate Terrafirma 
Have you ever wondered what the ‘M’ in ‘CON29M’ stands for? If you said mining, you’d be right. However, you’d be forgiven for being confused as until now, the CON29M report has only covered mining assessment from a single mineral – coal. Ground risk specialists Terrafirma, who provide mining and natural ground hazard reports to conveyancers, is introducing an exciting update by adding a non-coal section to their CON29M for the first time (launching 18 October).
Why is this important? Well, as any mining expert will know you don’t just find coal in coal mining areas. Non-coal minerals like ironstone, limestone and fireclay were often discovered by companies mining for coal, and subsequently extracted. Recorded and suspected non-coal mine workings were captured and form part of the Coal Authority’s database.
So what happens when your client’s property is subject to non-coal mining-related subsidence? Most conveyancers who have transacted in Coal Mining Consultation Areas will be aware that the Coal Mining Subsidence Act 1991 (as amended by the Coal Industry Act 1994) makes the Coal Authority responsible for damages to property from coal mining subsidence. Where damage to property is deemed to be the result of a non-coal mine working, the Coal Authority will not usually be liable. This leaves homeowners to rely on insurance and a potentially complicated claims process to compensate for substantial losses from property damage if the worst happens. Damage of this nature can also significantly affect property value and saleability.
Terrafirma’s updates follow consultation with industry and the Law Society. Tim Longden MSci FGS, Senior Geologist at Terrafirma, said:
“I am very excited to see the addition of reporting on non-coal mining risks to Terrafirma’s CON29M. Any damage to property from one of these old non-coal mining hazards would likely fall outside the Coal Mining Subsidence Act 1991, so having expertly-reviewed information prior to purchase could prove extremely valuable.
“It is great that Terrafirma is taking the initiative and presenting a change to their CON29M that unlocks better value from existing Coal Authority data.”
Tom Backhouse, Chief Executive Officer at Terrafirma, added:
“Innovating for the benefit of our customers and their clients has always been at the core of Terrafirma’s approach. From being the first commercial organisation licensed to provide CON29M searches to the launch of the Ground Report, positively disrupting to add value for conveyancers and property purchasers of all parties in property transactions is at the core of our approach.
“The addition of the assessment of non-coal mining hazards in Terrafirma’s CON29M helps to close the gap in protection and awareness of non-coal mining hazards for property transactions in Coal Mining Reporting Areas. Our expert reporting and search methodologies provide clear identification of when a property is within the influence of or at risk of mining-related instability from non-coal workings recorded in the Coal Authority database.”
All other critical benefits of Terrafirma’s CON29M have been retained, including a £10 million professional indemnity and £100k loss of value insurance for changes in Coal Authority data (coal and non-coal). In addition, Mine Entry Interpretive Reports are still included free-of-charge, as standard, and which will continue to report on coal and non-coal mine entries found within Coal Authority data.
Conveyancers should be aware that non-coal mining hazards in coal mining reporting areas extend beyond the Coal Authority mining records. To check which ground hazards may impact your property transaction conveyancers can use Terrafirma’s Hazard Alert service or integrated search alerts through their preferred searches provider. This tool identifies the most appropriate report for the property.
To fully assess all mining and natural ground instability hazards, conveyancers can rely upon the Terrafirma Ground Report, which includes a CON29M for properties in Coal Mining Consultation Areas.
Along with this crucial change to the CON29M, Terrafirma has unveiled a raft of other important updates and changes implemented to their other conveyancing products, including the Ground Report. To learn more about these exciting updates and how they benefit your clients, click here .