In a previous article “I Own That Sky”, we discussed a somewhat fanciful concept that when you own a block of land, you own the airspace up to the heavens above, and the earth below to the middle of the earth.
Not surprisingly, legislation has now cleared the situation where aircraft are allowed to pass over your property without being considered trespassers.
The second half of the concept involves what could be a much more valuable asset than the sky, being the earth and all associated minerals that may be below your house.
Common law allowed a land owner to grant a lease to a level of 3,500 feet below the surface. Now before we all race out and purchase land over suspected gold veins, we need to remember that gold and silver remain property of the Crown regardless of the grant or lease of the land in which they lie. There is now legislation which includes coal as another mineral vested in the Crown.
Legislation, being the typical killjoy that it is, now vests all minerals in the Crown, to the extent that the legislation can be interpreted that the land owner does not have any ownership of even the soil on their land.
So the maxim of owning air above and land below can be seen to no longer carry any weight in modern law. This doesn’t stop Judges using it at the start of many decisions, and as you continue reading the judgement, you can sense the disappointment in the writing as the Judge must acknowledge and apply new legislation. What started as owning the air above to the heavens, and the earth below to the centre of the earth, has now diminished to the point where you may not own the dirt below the foundations of your house.
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This is intended for general information and does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought.