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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Church of England seeking to register mineral rights across north Cumbria

The Church of England is contacting landowners across north Cumbria to tell them it is seeking to register ownership of mineral rights under their property.

Notices have been served on owners of more than 5,600 acres to the south and east of Carlisle, parts of the Eden Valley and a small parcel of land near Aspatria. The move follows a change in the law that requires owners of mineral rights to register them with the Land Registry by October this year or risk losing them.

Much of the land affected may once have been owned by the Church, which retained the mineral rights when the land was sold – in some cases centuries ago.

A Church of England spokesman said: “The Church Commissioners began a programme of registering all of their rural holdings following the introduction of the Land Registration Act 2002.

“This does not create any new interests or rights and is confined to properly registering what the commissioners have, in most cases, owned for many years. They are submitting applications to the Land Registry for the registration of ‘severed minerals’ – where the minerals’ interest ownership is severed from the surface ownership.

“This is all about properly registering existing interests so that all parties can see and understand who owns what.”

The Church says it has documentary evidence to back up its applications. It is not claiming rights to coal or petroleum, which were nationalised, nor gold and silver, which belong to the Crown.

The areas include Dalston, Cummersdale, Brisco, Wreay, Scalesceugh, West Curthwaite, Cumdivock, Newby West, Sebergham, Linstock, Brunstock and Crosby-on-Eden near Carlisle.

Also affected are Ruckcroft, Glassonby, Blencarn, Little Salkeld, Hunsonby, Winskill and Colby in the Eden Valley, plus Cliburn, Morland, Newby and Kings Meaburn to the south of Penrith.

Further applications are expected for land near Wetheral, Warwick-on-Eden, Hayton, Heads Nook, Aglionby and Carleton to the south and east of Carlisle.

Owners can challenge an application if they think the Church’s claim is unfounded.

Brisco resident Malcolm Ward was surprised to be served with a notice for a field he bought 25 years ago.

He said: “I’m asking them to produce their evidence. The onus should be on the Church Commissioners, either directly or through the Land Registry, to show their cards.

“As far as I was concerned, when I purchased the land I bought everything below it.”

More details at www.mineralregistration.churchofengland.org and www.landregistry.gov.uk

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