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Innovation in Cornish Property Risk Assessment

12th October 2018

Terrafirma collaborates with Cornish Mining Experts to bring new Ground Report to the South West.

Cornish mining expert, Cornwall Consultants and national mining and ground report specialist, Terrafirma, have announced a collaboration that sees the launch of a new Ground Report combining leading digital mapping and data analysis with ‘on-the-ground’ experience and expertise to bring clarity to the current confusion among property buyers across Devon and Cornwall caused by the disparate mix of products available to them.

The Ground Report from Cornwall Consultants will see customers benefit from the widest range of the latest ground stability information relating to coal and non-coal mining, natural ground issues and even fracking combined with a vast mining archive and wealth of experience working in the region. The Ground Report includes an expert professional opinion, risk assessment and risk transfer and satisfies new Mining and Ground Perils guidance in the Law Society Conveyancing Handbook.

“While planners, developers, conveyancers and lenders across the UK are only just waking up to the risks caused by historical mining activity it’s nothing new in the South West where holes open up and sales fall through on a regular basis consequently it’s been standard practice to undertake a desktop mining search for all property purchases in the region since the early 1990’s,” explains Dan Berriman, Managing Director, Cornwall Consultants.

"Thousands of historic records, yet more unrecorded workings, multiple experts with varying interpretations have all led to a wide range of products and a diverse range of results causing much confusion for conveyancers and developers. Our collaboration with Terrafirma will demystify this confusion and bring a Ground Report that provides the highest quality information possible on each and every property surpassing all existing local and nationally produced mining searches in terms of precision, interpretation and coverage for both detail and professional liability.” adds Dan.

“Cornwall Consultants are viewed as the go to mining experts in the South West having produced 128,000 mining searches over the last 27 years and amassed a formidable mining archive of historic plans and records. This is complimented by data and observations from over 6000 on-site investigations and inspections throughout the region which has been analysed and formulated into a delivery process that is rapid and reliable,” says Tom Backhouse, CEO and Founder of Terrafirma. “The Ground Report combines a best in class ground risks and liabilities report that blends the expertise and experience of Cornwall Consultants with Terrafirma’s technology driven solutions, data intelligence and robust terms and conditions and we are excited to be bring such an innovative report to the region.”

Records cover just the last 300 years of mining in the region, however, it has witnessed up to 3,000 years of extraction for tin copper and other metals therefore expert interpretation of the available records is key to predicting where ancient workings might lie. Innovative satellite data and air-borne radar has been added to uncover problems that have lain hidden for centuries helping to better protect unsuspecting purchasers.

The introduction of digital mapping and more powerful archive and retrieval data storage methods means that historic records; maps and plans can be scrutinised in greater detail than ever before leading to a greater number of ‘cleared’ properties and a far higher level of assurance provided. 85 per cent of properties can be passed by this process, even in Cornwall and Devon which has seen over 3000 active mines and an estimated 25,000 mine shafts. This assurance can only be provided by examining every discrete feature shown by each source and appraising separately. General risk areas that appear to influence whole towns and streets are no relied upon and each property is appraised separately.

Cornwall Consultants is an established mining consultancy specialising in all stages of mining risk assessment in the South West, from desk study through to site investigation and mitigation. Over the past 27 years, the company has appraised tens of thousands of properties enabling it to build a respected reputation, as well as a uniquely valuable digital archive of ground instability data. Cornwall Consultants has kept pace with an increasingly digital and demanding marketplace to remain at the forefront of interpretive Mining Search provision across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.


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Blog written by Tim Longden

Contact the team for more information and advice

Tel: 0330 900 7500

Email: info@terrafirmasearch.co.uk