Fracking concerns and ownership fears after Lord of the Manor stakes claim to minerals and mines beneath 7,000 properties
THOUSANDS of homeowners were shocked to receive a "surreal" letter from a Lord of the Manor they had no idea even existed staking a claim to their land yesterday.
A total of 7,000 residents were baffled, when they opened their mail on Tuesday 20, to find a notice from the Land Registry on behalf of Tim Shorland, the Lord of the Manor of Hempton and Northwick, enforcing his manorial privileges and interests.
These include the right to all the mines and minerals beneath their properties in Filton, Northwick, Redwick, Patchway, Hempton and along the Severn, as well as hunting, fishing and shooting rights.
A concerned Patchway woman, who asked not to be named, told the Gazette she drove to Mr Shorland's home in Westbury-on-Trym immediately after reading the notice to seek clarification and reassurance that she and her neighbours would not be thrown out of their homes at the drop of a hat.
"I was enraged when I received the letter this morning," she said. "It's an official notification.
"I've been in my home for 28 years. The worry is that somebody is putting a claim against my property. You just don't know. That's the worrying factor. I don't want anybody to be a beneficiary on my home."
This also led to fears that fracking - which involves blasting water, chemicals and sand at high velocity into a shaft to break rock and release gas - could potentially loom on the horizon.
Mr Shorland, who also has a claim to mineral rights on parts of Filton airfield, expressed an interest in fracking and testing the site for natural gases back in February.
Cllr Ian Roberts, chairman of Pilning and Severn Beach Parish Council, told the Gazette.
"I had no idea about these letters,” he said. “This could mean fracking.”
Mr Shorland, a retired asbestos removal contractor, bought his title for £7,000 back in 1990.
He was inundated with calls from concerned locals all day yesterday but assured residents he meant no harm and was simply making the public aware of his existence, as per the law, by publishing the notice.
It has become compulsory for Lords of the Manor to register their title.
"Understandably this letter is causing severe worry," said the 73-year-old. "These titles do not affect ownership. People still own their house and the land. It's only the mines and minerals under their properties we are talking about."
Speaking about fracking, he added: "I would not be allowed to mine under the properties without people's consent. I considered fracking many years ago but there is nothing of value in the subsoil of the ground."