OR/14/021 About the historic land use dataset

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Linley, K. User Guide Historic Land Use. British Geological Survey Internal Report, OR/14/021.


Between 2001 and 2003 the BGS received approximately 1400 1:25 000 scale paper maps and associated card index from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (now Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)). The maps, originally compiled by the Minerals Division of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHLG), (DCLGs historic predecessor), contain hand drawn boundaries indicating land use present in areas of land that have been affected by the extraction of minerals in England. These ‘MHLG’ maps show mineral related land use collated from the 1940s (retrospectively to 1930) to the mid 1980s. The index cards provide supplementary information regarding name, operator, dates and relevant local planning authority.

In 2006 BGS obtained the equivalent maps, 200 in number, for Wales from the Welsh Assembly Government. However, the associated card index file no longer exists.

Attempts have been made to find the equivalent MHLG maps for Scotland. However, these have been unsuccessful.

The variable completeness of the datasets should be kept in mind when this material is being used. The principal aim of the data is to show areas of land that have received planning permission for the extraction of minerals.

Other datasets that are currently under development include:

Historic mineral planning permission data

This dataset has been extracted from the same MHLG source map and indicates sites where mineral planning permission has been sought.

Categories include:

  • mineral commodity
  • Planning status (valid, withdrawn, revoked, refused)
  • Notes on application progress, reconsideration

The principle aim of the data is to show areas where permission has been sought for the extraction of minerals.


The BritPits (an abbreviation of British Pits, and the word 'pits' is used here to include both surface quarries and underground mines) database holds information on:

  • name of active mines and quarries
  • geographic location
  • address
  • operator
  • mineral planning authority
  • geology
  • mineral commodities produced
  • end-uses where known

Who might require this data?

This legacy dataset is important in the identification of areas which might formerly have been used for mineral extraction. Its historic nature means that no surface manifestation of previous workings may exist. The dataset may indicate restoration in terms of filled or unfilled quarries, but does not detail the criteria imposed by the MHLG or provide evidence as to the suitability for the future redevelopment of sites.

The identification of former mineral workings can assist land-use planners; rapidly identifying areas with potential problems and aid local government offices in making development plans by helping to define land suited to different uses. Other users of the data may include developers, homeowners, solicitors, loss adjusters, the insurance industry, architects and surveyors.

What the dataset shows?

Data depicted on the source maps (for both England and Wales) and included in the dataset is the land use at each locality. Categories as: derelict areas, restored quarries (filled and unfilled), tips, heaps and spoil heaps and wet areas. The maintenance of the maps ended (mid 1985), some authority information had been updated recently but other areas had not been visited for many years.

The dataset contains a significant number of overlapping polygons where multiple mineral planning applications have been made in the same area. These may represent completion of multiple phases of working and subsequent abandonment, partial restoration of sites, phased or total abandonment and consequent dereliction. It should be noted that overlapping polygon boundaries may be coincident in size and extent but in many cases they are not.

The dataset does not give any indication of areas where later applications to work have been made and carried out.