Coal Mining Risk Assessments

Here in the UK we have a long industrial legacy and for the most part, until about 1990, the energy that fuelled that legacy was coal.  The UK has over 50 coalfields ranging from Brora in the north of Scotland to Kent and Bovey Tracey in the south of England, and all areas in-between. 


Coal is a sedimentary rock that is the product of the geological compaction of organic material (trees, plants etc) in the many deltaic environments that covered the area in (mainly) Carboniferous times (between 300 to 350 million years ago).  As such, its high calorific value means that it’s been recognized as a fuel source and mined since before Roman times, but it was not until 1854 that it was a legal requirement to keep records of where these mines were.  As such, when building developments in coal field areas, there is a risk that development can be on previously mined and potentially voided ground.


The Government recognizes this risk and engages The Coal Authority as a statutory consultee on planning applications within all 180 coalfield Local Planning Authorities (LPA) across defined coal mining areas of England, Scotland and Wales.  The Coal Authority carries out this responsibility by dividing all coal mining areas into Low Risk and High Risk.  In Low Risk area there is usually no request for extra information as part of a planning application.  However, in “Development High Risk Areas”, as a first instance, you will be required to provide a “Coal Mining Risk Assessment” (CMRA) as part of your planning application.  This report will contain specific recorded coal mining legacy risks which pose a public safety and/or ground instability risk to the surface including:


  •       mine entries
  •       shallow coal workings (recorded and probable)
  •       workable coal seam outcrops
  •       mine gas sites and areas
  •       recorded coal mining related hazards
  •       geological features (fissures and break lines)
  •       former surface mining sites / high wall



The conclusions of this CMRA might require further intrusive works (rotary drilling, gas monitoring, geophysical surveys, probing etc) to identify any of the above possible risks and put forward a risk mitigation strategy. 


Here at Geo-Integrity we have undertaken many Coal Mining Risk Assessment and follow-on Phase 2 investigations across the whole country, including Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, South Wales, Somerset, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Bristol.  If you are planning a development in an old coal mining area give us a call on 01280 816409 or drop us an email on  We can help you.

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