In common with other major landowners such as the Church of England, the Crown Estates, the Duchy of Cornwall and of Lancaster and others, Northumberland Estates (‘the Estate’) is in the process of registering historic mineral and manorial rights following changes in the law governing land registration. This is happening across England and Wales as landowners follow a new official process of registration for certain centuries old rights to minerals. Northumberland Estates is a privately owned family business, which represents the business interests of the Duke of Northumberland and the Percy family and its various Trusts. It is worth stating at the outset that the private ownership of minerals does not extend to oil and gas, or to coal reserves which are vested in the State, neither to gold and silver deposits which are owned by the Crown. As a result of the registration process, property owners with land where these minerals rights are being registered may receive notification from the Land Registry. This will undoubtedly raise questions so, in an effort to reassure, we have compiled a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions which we hope may be of assistance to those affected.


Mineral FAQs

The process of registering property or property rights is controlled by the Land Registry. In an effort to update their records, HM Land Registry introduced changes in the law through the Land Registration Act 2002. This has made it compulsory for all owners of manorial and certain manorial mineral rights to register them or potentially lose ownership. In part our applications are to protect those rights, but we are also taking the opportunity to register the Estate’s minerals interests even where this is not a legal requirement. This is in line with a general desire at the Land Registry that it should have as complete a view of land ownership and any interests in land as is possible. The fact that the Estate is seeking to register its minerals interests does not indicate that the Estate has any present intention to work any particular minerals.
Under Land Registry rules the Estate is not given free access to the names and addresses of those owning property on the surface of the land where minerals or mineral rights are being registered. Instead these property owners are being informed by the Land Registry direct as a matter of course.
No, this is not a new claim for mineral rights. The Estate has historically owned the minerals below the surface of large areas of land for centuries. It has also been common practice for landowners to retain the ownership of minerals with associated rights following the sale of surface land over the last few centuries.
Historic title deeds will often show that the ownership of minerals is specifically excluded from ownership of the land, but may not show who owns them. This reference to an exclusion has been common practice in title deeds dating back centuries. However, the fact that the deeds do not mention any separate ownership of minerals is not conclusive evidence that they are not excluded, since this may often have been dealt with by private Acts of Parliament known as Enclosure Acts and Awards, or by virtue of the land having historically been of a particular type of land tenure known as ‘’copyhold land’’.
No. The owner of the minerals rights does not have the right to break the surface of the land without planning permission. Anyone considering mineral extraction of any type must apply through the planning process and this, of course, affords opportunity for anyone concerned to make their representations.
The issue of value is not one that we are in a position to give professional advice on, but it is the case that an extremely large number of properties in England and Wales will be constructed in areas where the minerals are in separate ownership. In our view, there is no reason why this registration should affect the value of a property but if you have concerns then you should take further professional advice.
Underwriting policies are the responsibility of the insurer. As there is no intention to pursue mining activities there should in our view be no impact.
Yes. This has to be done via the Land Registry and they will inform you how to proceed. To challenge any registration you must be able to provide evidence that it is you that has the title to the minerals and any associated rights to the minerals, including rights to work on the land in question, and not the person seeking to register them. If you choose to challenge we would advise that you seek legal advice.
Government policy as at December 2019 is currently against the continuation of fracking. Should this position change then permission for any shale gas extraction would again require Government approval and planning permission. Shale gas, as a form of gas, is also vested in the State.

Contact Us

If you have further questions, more information can be found on the HM Land Registry web site at Alternatively you can contact us by email at or at The Estate Office. Alnwick Castle. Alnwick. Northumberland. NE66 1NQ