The Longleat Estate has dispelled fears that letters received by Warminster residents from the Land Registry notifying them about an application to register mineral rights on their land are paving the way for fracking.

Warminster Town Council has been contacted by dozens of residents worried about letters they received informing them about Lord Bath’s application to register Longleat Estate’s “manorial” rights to extract minerals from under properties in the town.

Residents have also expressed concerns following recent publicity that these letters have been sent out in order for the rights owner to have access to the mineral rights for the purposes of fracking.

However, the Land Registry Public Guide 25 makes it clear that any oil or gas belongs to the Crown, not to the owners of the land, and they would have to grant licenses to extract them.

Until the Land Registration Act of 2002, interests in mines and mineral rights existed but did not need to be recorded on the Land Register.

However, following the Act, the interests needed to be recorded by October 12, 2013 in order to be protected.

Longleat believes the interest in the mineral rights has been in the ownership of the family for hundreds of years and has registered this interest accordingly.

A statement from Longleat said: “Before the Land Registration Act of 2002 certain types of interests affecting land did not need to be recorded on the Land Register. “However the 2002 Land Registration Act directed these interests had to be registered before the October 12, 2013 to be protected.

“Longleat, along with many other large estates and landowners, like the Church Commissioners, have therefore been investigating their potential interests with a view to making the necessary application to the Land Registry before the deadline.

“One of the interests which affects Longleat are mineral rights vested in the land owner centuries ago. We believe that the Longleat Estate is still in ownership of some of these rights.”

The rights have always existed and for some properties the register may already show that mines and minerals are not included in the title deeds, which means those home owners will not receive a letter from the Land Registry.

However, for those residents whose title deeds do not already show that mines and minerals are not included in the property, this now needs be entered by law.

The statement continues: “An application has therefore been made by Longleat to register these rights in order to protect an interest that has been in the family for hundreds of years. We have not sought to create any new rights.

“The registration of these rights does not alter the ownership status of the land in question - it just makes it clear on the Land Register.”

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