In his comment on yesterday’s post, Frank drew the attention of readers to the Church of England’s recently published note about its Mineral Registration Programme explaining the reasons for its involvement in registering its existing interests, i.e.
“… to protect existing rights and interests made vulnerable by the change in the law. There are no particular plans to mine under any property. The focus is registration and protection”.
In the present climate of media concern regarding the application of hydraulic fragmentation, (“fracking”) as a means of releasing natural gas resources, the two issues were eagerly, but mistakenly, linked and this morning’s headlines read: Church wants share of fracking bounty, (The Times, £); Church of England in ‘fracking land-grab’, (Daily Telegraph); and Church of England ‘land grab’ for rights to minerals under THOUSANDS of homes and farms fuels fears of controversial fracking, (Daily Mail).
In view of these misconceptions, the Church of England has now modified its earlier note, adding the following Clarification on suggested links with hydraulic fracturing or ” fracking”
“It is factually incorrect to link the Mineral Registration Programme with fracking. The Church Commissioners are registering their mineral interests in line with the Land Registry requirements, as any responsible landowner is doing before the end of October deadline. This work started in 2004. 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, and in some cases for centuries. There is absolutely no link with fracking.
We would make clear that this is just a registration and protection exercise to protect existing rights and interests made vulnerable by the change in the law. There are no particular plans to mine under any property. The focus is registration and protection”.
On this side of the Atlantic, a disclaimer by any landowner that they have no interest in exploiting gas or minerals under the land would bring uncontrollable torrents of laughter. I wonder, does anyone in Britan take this disclaimer seriously?
The clarification issued by the Church of England is a statement of fact, rather than a disclaimer. Within the UK, the rights to certain minerals – oil, gas, coal, gold and silver – are owned by the State, not by individuals or organizations such as the Church. It is therefore incorrect to describe that the actions of the Church as a “land grab” related to its rights to natural gas which might be obtained by fracking. The Church’s Mineral Registration Programme is a response to the need to register mineral and other rights under the Land Registration Act 2002 before midnight on 12 October 2013.
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