Stately home damage not caused by mining

Posted: 27th October 2016

HomeThere is a legal right to compensation if your property suffers from subsidence due to coal mining operations – however, it can be hard to establish cause and effect and that was certainly so in one case in which the owners of one of the UK’s grandest stately homes, Wentworth Woodhouse in South Yorkshire, sought over £100 million from the Coal Authority (CA).

The Grade 1-listed house, which was bigger than Buckingham Palace, was built largely on the immense profits from coal mining during the industrial revolution. Mining in the area had long since ceased but the property’s owners argued that disused mine shafts were responsible for recent subsidence damage to the building’s structure.

In claiming compensation from the CA under the Coal Mining Subsidence Act 1991, the owners argued that the primary trigger of the damage was the collapse of old mines as a result of water inundation. That was said to have followed the end of strategic pumping in the disused coal field during the 1990s.

In ruling on the case, the Upper Tribunal (UT) found that that the house had in the past suffered mining subsidence on a substantial scale. However, any mining-related ground movement had ceased decades ago. Technical evidence indicated that the house had been stable since 1995, four years before it came into the hands of its current owners. The UT would hear further argument as to the consequences of its decision, which concerned four particular areas of damage to the house.