Fracking blight as households warned of mining rights

Thousands of households have been sent letters warning that the land beneath their homes could be used for mining, prompting fears that landowners will seek to cash in on the government's plans for widespread fracking across the UK.

The Land Registry said it has received 73,000 claims from landowners including Prince Charles, under ancient rights allowing "lords of the manor" to claim land for mining or hunting.

Thousands of households have received letters informing them of the claims, causing widespread upset and concern amongst affected communities.

Labour MP Albert Owen said the letters had prompted fears that landowners were seeking to cash in on future fracking rights.

"These fears have been heightened at a time when we’re talking about shale gas exploration in the country. Many people link the two together," he told a Westminster Hall debate.

Tory MP Glyn Davies said the letters were causing huge worry and upset to his constituents in North Wales.

"Landowners such as the Williams-Wynn estate in north Wales send letters to people and cause them massive concern and great expense as they consult solicitors because of their worry and because they have no idea what the letters mean," he said.

Some homeowners have claimed the notices have made it difficult to attain home loans, with others fearing that they could lose their homes all together.

The government have been urged to ensure that the notices do not cause "blight" to households seeking loans.

Business minister Michael Fallon yesterday admitted the letters had upset some people but defended the actions of the Land Registry.

"The Land Registry appreciates that it can cause concern and upset when people receive a letter from it saying that a third party has protected a claimed interest.

"However, that letter gives the property owner an opportunity to consider the issue."

He said the rush of claims had come as a result of the ten year deadline for landowners to claim manorial rights coming to an end.