Coal Authority: Mining Reports System Dataset
The Mining Reports System (MRS) is an electronic dataset which identifies and records information on coal mining in England, Scotland and Wales. It contains details of past, current and future coal mining activity, underground and on the surface. It was used to provide information for mining reports, in response to enquiries from prospective property purchasers or land developers who want to purchase land in a coal mining area in Great Britain.
The system also kept records of these enquiries: information on the enquirer, their address and related information provided by licensees, for example work currently taking place, and works proposed over a period of time, up to 10 years.
This series includes a 1998 snapshot of the Mining Reports System (MRS) and holds records that show the history and development of this system. The MRS was the first attempt to automate the process of providing coal mining searches, begun in 1947 by The National Coal Board (NCB) and continued the by British Coal Corporation. Initially the process had involved teams of mining surveyors consulting local mining plans held at regional offices. However, this methodology was time-consuming and expensive partly because the plans were drawn at a variety of scales and were often inconveniently sized; but also because they were held at scattered locations. In 1979 it was recognised that information required to produce a coal mining report could be captured and computerised. If captured data could be easily accessed and interrogated, then the process could be automated - not only saving time, but reducing human error. The Mining Reports System (MRS) was launched locally in 1985 and established nationwide by 1989. At the same time, the Law Society Scheme for Coal Mining Searches was established as the standardised consultation procedure for property transactions in coal mining areas. The MRS accordingly subsequently provided coal mining reports in response to enquiries made under this Scheme.
The original 1989 Law Society Scheme for Coal Mining Searches comprised guidance notes, a directory of towns and parishes affected by coal mining, and two forms for coal mining enquiry: Con29M Standard and Con 29M Special. The Standard form was intended to be used principally for domestic property; the Special form was intended as a supplementary form for non-domestic property, significant property development, or in cases where a claim against the former NCB/British Coal was being contemplated.
The MRS ran in conjunction with the Surface Damage System (SDS) which contained all the details on a claim and how the claim was settled. External assessors were employed to deal with subsidence damage claims, and all claims were classed as confidential. During 1996-1997, an automated property location system called FTAPL was added, to deal with requests for mining reports. This system integrated with digital map data from the Ordnance Survey and thus provided a capablility for using a Geographical Information System (GIS).
The capture of the 1998 MRS snapshot coincided with the migration of both the MRS and the SDS information into a new system called the Mining Reports and Surface Damage System (MRSDS). This is a GIS system which produces mining reports, and enables the user to look at properties in the context of any relevant mine workings by viewing information from all the relevant original mining plans in the system, against modern Ordnance Survey map data. The system computes 3-dimensional underground mining activity information from raw 2-dimensional mine workings extent data coupled with depth information. The resulting 3-dimensional data, when integrated with surface land height data, allows the user to assess the surface land areas which may be affected by individual and overlapping underground workings.
The legacy Surface Damage System (SDS) has not been selected for permanent preservation, since any relevant legacy information will be captured by the new Mining Reports and Surface Damage System (MRSDS). The MRSDS is still in use by the Coal Authority's Mining Reports Service.
The datasets in this series are available to download. Links to individual datasets can be found at piece level.
Hardware: The Mining Reports System (MRS) was a mainframe system run by Origin on behalf of the Coal Authority. The mainframe was AMDAHL 5890 (IBM-compatible) in MOSS V5.4 databases, running VM/SP-CMS.
Operating System: Not known.
Application Software: The Mining Reports System (MRS) used specifically created bespoke software. Details of legacy data software are not known. Data was migrated in delimited format, as agreed between The Coal Authority, Origin UK (the developers) and Cap Gemini.
User Interface: Not known.
How data was originally captured and validated: Mining Reports System (MRS) data capture involved a large-scale process of rationalisation. For details please refer to the documentation included in this series.
Coal Authority, 1994-
National Coal Board, 1946-1986
Any transaction involving land within a coal mining area requires detailed documentation - known as coal mining searches or mining reports. Such transactions may involve land purchase, mortgage or mortgage extension, and / or proposed development of land. The National Coal Board (NCB) was set up under the Coal Industry Industrialisation Act of 1946 to run the coal mining industry in Great Britain. From 1947 the NCB provided this documentation, through its regional offices, in response to independent enquiries.
In 1979, the NCB Western Area's Working Party on Mining Reports, set up to examine the searches methodology currently in place, identified problems and recommended a digital solution. A computerised system was developed and piloted, in 1985, at Bretby, Derbyshire. NCB was re-named the British Coal Corporation (generally referred to as British Coal) by the Coal Industry Act, 1987. By 1989 British Coal considered the coal mining search system sufficiently proven to be extended to cover Staffordshire and Lancashire and then for implementation nationwide. This became the Mining Reports System (MRS).
The need for a standardised consultation procedure for property transactions had been highlighted by the Law Society, and in 1984 the Subsidence Compensation Review Committee, chaired by Lewis E Waddilove (the Waddilove Committee) and appointed by the Department of Energy produced its report. This recommended such a standardised system be established. A working group was set up between the Law Society and British Coal, and this led to the establishment of the Law Society Scheme for Mining Searches, in 1989. The scheme was revised in 1991 to take account of the 1991 Coal Mining Subsidence Act, and again in 1994 (with the passing of the Coal Industry Act 1994) to reflect the privatisation of the Coal Industry and the Establishment of the Coal Authority. A further revision of the Scheme in 1998 reflected the transfer of the Coal Authority's Mining Reports Office from Bretby, Derbyshire to Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.
The Coal Authority was established under the Coal Industry Act, 1994 but its functions, duties and powers are granted also under the Coal Mining Subsidence Act, 1991. Its specific statutory responsibilities include the provision of public access to information on past and present coal mining operations held by the Authority; this is achieved through property search services and historic mining records. It is also responsible for the issuing of licences and permissions relating to coal mining operations in Great Britain; for managing the historic legacy of British Coal - the land formerly part of the NCB estate - including liability issues and disposal. It also has obligations relating to public safety and risks to that safety (such as subsidence) arising from former coal mining operations.
The Coal Authority, since 2008 a non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), holds and maintains the national coal mining database and operates an online mining reports service for property in England, Scotland and Wales. It continues to maintain the Mining Reports and Surface Damage System (MRSDS) which has superseded the Mining Reports System (MRS).
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