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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Duke lays claim to mineral rights in Carlisle area

An aristocratic landowner is flexing his muscles to secure ancient rights belonging to him.

Mineral rights David Graham photo
David Graham at his parents' home

The Duke of Devonshire has rights stretching back hundreds years in the Carlisle area.

He has emerged as the latest person or organisation to lodge claims for mineral rights under people’s properties.

The Church of England has already started contacting landowners seeking to register its claim to minerals.

But now people living in the Scotby, Durranhill and Harraby area are receiving solicitors’ letters – this time on the Duke of Devonshire’s behalf.

Some have been initially alarmed by what they’ve read.

David Graham, 59, contacted The Cumberland News on behalf of his 87-year-old parents, of Beverley Rise, Harraby, who received a letter.

He said: “I cannot understand how a complete stranger can try to seize land on what was an old council estate. No one knows what it is about. Some people think they are trying to claim their houses.

“It seems strange that so many years have passed and we have never had a letter about this. Pensioners need reassured. It is typical of bureaucratic Britain.”

Much of the land affected may once have been owned by the person or group confirming its rights – in some cases centuries ago – but, unknown to most, maintained their claim to minerals.

Mineral rights are ancient rights to mines and minerals, plus sporting and market rights on a piece of land.

Letters are being sent following a change in the law that requires owners of mineral rights to register them with the Land Registry by October or risk losing them.

Solicitors in Carlisle have been asked for advice by householders affected.

Duncan Carter, a partner at Bell Park Kerridge, said: “We have received calls from concerned property owners who have received a notification from the Land Registry that a third party is claiming manorial rights over their property.

“If you are one of the property owners to receive a notice, our advice is to consult a solicitor before you respond.”

Diane Barnes, a solicitor at Burnetts, has advised there is no need for people to panic when they receive the letter.

She said: “The letters are not being sent because of specific intention to do anything. If these applicants did want to do something with the land then they would need the usual planning permission.

“Due to the change in the law it means they have to register the interests, it does not mean there is an intention. However, if there is a deadline for response or not on the letter I would advise people to seek legal advice.

“The letters are not very clear so I can understand why someone could be confused if you don’t know what you are looking at.”

However, while there seems to be no immediate concerns, there could be a risk in the future if landowners are digging.

Ms Barnes added: “If people do something that might interfere with mines or minerals, such as digging foundations for an extension then there could be a risk of the owner coming along and saying you have interfered with the mines or minerals.”

Owners can challenge an application if they think it is unfounded.

More details at www.mineralregistration.churchofengland.org and www.landregistry.gov.uk/public/guides/public-guide-25.

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