The Importance of Knowing What Lies Beneath!

The Importance of Knowing What Lies Beneath!

For many of us, the materials that lie beneath our land are things that we most likely take for granted. They simply represent the ‘earth’ or the ‘ground’ and need no further thought in most cases. But there are also times when it can be extremely helpful to know exactly what lies beneath the surface of your property. Matthews & Son LLP has many years experience of assisting landowners and developers in this area, for a variety of reasons.

UK Geological map

  • The identification of potential valuable mineral deposits that could be commercially exploitable. Whether you have owned the land for some time or are considering buying or selling property, do you know what you are dealing with. Are you sitting on the proverbial ‘gold mine’? Do you want to avoid ‘under selling’ a potential prospect?
  • Developers: Do you know what your development proposals are going to be sitting on, and potentially permanently sterilising what lies beneath? When built upon, a mineral resource that could have been worthy of further investigation may well be lost forever. Is it not better to know in advance what you are dealing with? Are there opportunities to capitalise on both assets?
  • Likewise, some developers can find themselves hampered with the planning process if it is determined that the land forms part of a ‘mineral safeguarding area’. In some cases, Planning Authorities can raise objections to planning proposals if they feel the development will serve to sterilise the resource. A simple study at the outset allows you to be ‘better prepared’ for issues that may arise during the planning process. The study process can also assist in countering such objections if the mineral resource can be shown to be unlikely to be commercial.
  • Are the mineral deposits under the land in your control? When buying land, legal searches ‘should’ identify whether other separate ownerships or rights to minerals exist, but may not advise you whether the deposits are able to be worked or accessed. Could you be aquiring land which could be subject to extraction proposals on ‘severed’ minerals in the future that are beyond your control?
  • Is your land being compulsorily acquired, or a wayleave for a utility line proposed on your land? Have you considered the terms of that order or wayleave and whether it will impact on any future minerals potential?
  • Remember that built development usually involves the placement of foundations, piling and underground utilities. Whilst you may have agreed terms with a surface owner for construction, are you sure that the minerals deposits under the surface are in the same ownership? Are you lining yourself up for a potential ‘trespass’ claim if you disturb them?

All of the above questions can benefit from studies to identify what lies beneath the surface. Often the simplest type of research can prove sufficient and Matthews & Son LLP can offer site specific ‘desk based’ reviews of geological and planning data to identify the general situation under your land. These can be invaluable to those either wanting to know if they have potential beneath their land or to avoid any nasty surprises that may arise if you are considering built development. This is also the most cost effective study that can be carried out.

Beyond that, we can also assist in more intrusive, detailed investigations and we work closely with drilling contractors and geologists on those occasions where physical identifcation is required to either prove (or dis-prove!) the presence of a mineral resource. This is usually the ‘next stage’ for those wanting to promote a minerals prospect through the planning system or to the minerals industry at large. It can also be a necessary step to counter development objections on the grounds that a mineral resource will be affected.

As with most things in life, knowledge is power, and it’s essential that in this specialist area one takes advice from a Chartered Minerals Surveyor with experience in the identification of minerals potential throughout the UK.

If you are considering buying, selling, or developing a parcel of land, it pays to know what lies beneath!


Paul Malam

T 07535 673618