Case law >> Council liable in nuisance for gas escaping from mine

14th May 2013

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Local government ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management



Hayley Tam and George Hobson from LexisPSL describe case where a local council's failure to deal with escaping gas from an old coal mine results in a successful nuisance claim

In Willis and another v Derwentside District Council [2013] All ER (D) 70, the council was liable in nuisance for gas escaping from a disused colliery. Dangerous emissions were discovered 28 years after the land housing the mine was transferred to the council from the National Coal Board. Despite remedial work to abate the emissions, the council remained liable because it had not issued a certificate of completion for the work.

The main issue was whether the council was liable in nuisance and, if so, the extent of its liability. Private nuisance is an unlawful interference with the use or enjoyment of land or some right over or connection with it. Where the defendant has not caused the nuisance, but merely permitted it to continue, proof of negligence is required. Liability arises only where the defendant fails to take reasonable steps to abate the nuisance once it knew or ought to have known about it.

In this case, the council was under a duty to abate the gas escaping from the date the emissions were discovered. The duty applied to emissions of gas originating from the council’s land as well as gas merely passing through the land.

The claimants successfully argued that the council’s failure to issue a certificate of satisfactory completion of the remedial work meant a mortgage could not be raised on the property, making it unmarketable. Pending the provision of a certificate and an undertaking to monitor and maintain the works, the council had not taken all reasonable steps to abate the nuisance. The claimants were also entitled to claim the costs of employing their own Failure to deal with escaping gas from an old coal mine results in successful nuisance claim against a local councilexpert, which they did after the council refused to disclose its reports.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Latest environmental legislation round-up

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Dr Julie Riggs issues a call to arms to tackle a modern-day human tragedy

15th March 2024

Read more

The UK’s new biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirements could create 15,000 hectares of woodlands, heath, grasslands, and wetlands and absorb 650,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

13th March 2024

Read more

Campaign group Wild Justice has accused the UK government of trying to relax pollution rules for housebuilders “through the backdoor”.

14th February 2024

Read more

Digital tracking, packaging data delays and new collections provide a waste focus for this edition’s environmental round-up by legislation expert Neil Howe

28th November 2023

Read more

Environmental crimes could result in prison sentences of up to 10 years and company fines of 5% of turnover under a proposed EU law agreed by the European parliament and council.

21st November 2023

Read more

Stuart McLachlan and Dean Sanders discuss their book: The Adventure of Sustainable Performance: Beyond ESG Compliance to Leadership in the New Era.

14th November 2023

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close