Mining Rights Awarded to Neighbouring Quarry Owner

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The case concerned land which had formerly been in common ownership and used as a stone quarry. The 1975 transfer split the site into a quarry and a neighbouring farm. The owner of the quarry, however, retained mineral rights in respect of the farm, together with all necessary ancillary rights and liberties that would reasonably be required to win stone from under the farmland.

Both landholdings had changed hands by the time the quarry's owner served notice of its intention to enter the farm to undertake landscaping works with a view to applying for planning permission to carry out quarrying operations on the farm. After the owner of the farm objected, however, a judge granted summary judgment against the quarry owner on the basis that the proposed works, including erecting fences and planting trees, were not authorised by the terms of the transfer.

In challenging that ruling, the quarry owner argued that such works were nowadays an essential prerequisite to successful planning applications in respect of mineral extraction operations. The owner of the farm, however, submitted that the proposed works had no sufficient connection to the working of minerals and that the transfer did not permit them to be carried out prior to a grant of planning consent.

In upholding the appeal and opening the way for a full hearing of the case, the High Court noted the breadth of the rights conferred upon the quarry owner by the transfer. The concept of 'winning' was not confined to mechanical digging for minerals, but also embraced preparatory works. If the landscaping works enhanced the quarry owner's chances of obtaining planning permission, they could be viewed as reasonably necessary for the purpose of winning minerals from under the farm.

Morris and Perry (Gurney Slade Quarries) Ltd. v Hawkins

Rex Cowell