Confusing from the CoE on minerals rights

The Church of England has begun legal action to claim ancient mineral rights beneath thousands of homes and farms, prompting fears the church could seek to cash in on fracking.

I do understand what they\’re doing in law. They\’ve got to assert those old Lord of the Manor rights or lose them. Fine.

But why should this relate to fracking? I thought mineral rights to oil and gas (maybe coal too, also gold and silver) belonged to the Crown, not the owner of the land?

10 comments on “Confusing from the CoE on minerals rights

  1. Yes, oil & gas belongs to the Crown and has done since the Petroleum (Production) Act 1934. They also lay claim to gold, silver, and coal. All other minerals belong to whoever owns the mineral rights.
    There is potential for conflict if e.g. you have a copper mine and the Crown wants to drill beneath it to extract the oil or gas below. That’s the only fracking angle I can see.

  2. yes, you’re right – all hydrocarbon rights lie with the Crown. I wonder if this is a bit like the efforts a few years ago to reassert charges for using common land around churches to access houses, and so extract some money from the landowner or the Crown in exchanging for giving up these rights or allowing access?

  3. Once again, compare and contrast the alleged caring, compassionate Lefty C of E with their actual revealed behaviour.

  4. Having looked into it very briefly, I believe there may be an issue as to whether gas trapped underground is vested in the crown, or remains the property of the holder of the fee simple.
    The Crown owns only “petroleum in its natural condition in strata”. There is a Privy Council case where petroleum was held to include gas in liquid form, but not trapped non-liquid gas.
    CoE is rightly seeking to protect its potential rights.

  5. I’ve posted several comments about Crown ownership under the Petroleum Acts on the Telegraph website, but of course the article is still there and unchanged.

    Sandman’s point is interesting, if there’s an argument that the Crown rights don’t cover shale gas, but there’s no mention of that in the Telegraph article and if he’s correct I would expect a rapid “clarification” amendment to the Petroleum Act before anyone manages to get any money.

    Re Andrew M, the Crown claims gold & silver I think under ancient common law and oil & gas under statute (I think starting with the Petroleum Act 1918). Coal rights were nationalised in the 1930s but that was to a government agancy (currently the Coal Authority), not the Crown.

    A useful page, in that it states the government’s position:
    http://www.bgs.ac.uk/mineralsuk/planning/legislation/mineralOwnership.html

  6. It should be acknowledged that the Church of England (as opposed to the wider Anglican community) ceased being an actual church many decades ago and is now little more than a charity for the preservation of historic buildings (with certain community care costs) financed by an extensive, but gradually diminishing property portfolio.

    The fact that they wish to assert their rights of mineral, water and other resources under church property is perfectly in line with any portfolio managers desire to get as much value as possible out of them.

  7. Are not some church holdings at least held as if they were the crown? There are church holdings of very long standing (potentially 1,300 years…) which were grants of royal rights as much as anything else.

    Not sure how this relates to a 1934 act mind you…

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