On the 4th January 2018, a 1.2m deep, 0.6m wide ‘’sinkhole’’ opened next to the Whitehaven – Workington railway line, near the coastal village of Harrington in Cumbria. For fears of the hole expanding and damaging the rail line, services were delayed in order to complete emergency repairs and infill the void. Initial observations have led rail engineers to speculate that a collapsed drain or coastal erosion accelerated by Storm Eleanor are the cause of the collapse. However, the correlation with known mine entries and collapses along the railway line have prompted Terrafirma to research further to see if past coal extraction may in fact be the cause.
As the year rapidly draws to a close, at Terrafirma, we thought we would summarise this amazing year, including providing a top 5 of our #WhatLiesBeneath blog and our key 2017 events.
2017 has been a year of change at Terrafirma. Time and resource was invested in the Terrafirma brand, sales, marketing and educational material – creating a recognisable and professional brand identity for the first time, embodied by our new website terrafirmasearch.co.uk and our tagline ‘understand the ground’.
In 2017, Terrafirma provided over 250 hours of training, workshop and Continued Professional Development for professionals across the UK. We have also focussed our academic projects on exploring the hidden hazards that the ground can pose – including an industry-first analysis of sinkholes in the UK. This analysis cumulated in late November with a three-part documentary series exploring Sinkholes, on Channel 5. Terrafirma were heavily involved in the research and production material for the series and Terrafirma CEO, Tom Backhouse, co-hosted an episode investigating the impact of mining sinkholes on people, property and investment across the UK and the world.
As we look back on this exciting year and our mission to continually educate professionals and the public to the risks that the ground poses we have picked out our top five events and the top five ‘What lies Beneath’ blog posts:
Exploring the themes behind Sinkholes in the UK
At Terrafirma, understanding the ground is what we do best: Our CEO Tom Backhouse was recently asked to feature in Channel 5’s documentary Sinkholes to provide an expert insight into the roots behind their cause. Inevitably then, when high profile sinkholes such as those at Fontmell Close, in St Albans or in Wednesbury, causing up to six million pounds of damage and evacuating families from their homes, we ask ourselves “can sinkholes be predicted?”.
Over the last few months and years, the experts at Terrafirma have meticulously observed, understood and recorded each sinkhole as they form. Now, armed with this information, Terrafirma is proud to present a new dataset and report feature; ‘SinkholeAlert’, allowing our team to examine the common themes behind these hidden dangers.
Delve behind the scenes of the Channel 5 documentary on Sinkholes.
The word sinkhole has become a term broadly used term to describe any hole in the ground created by erosional processes and the drainage of water. Ground hazards in the UK are often synonymous with the word sinkhole which can span from just a few feet in diameter to gigantic chasms large enough to swallow whole buildings.
They can have devastating consequences as can be seen on the new three-part Sinkhole documentary which began on Monday 20 November on Channel 5 and features extensive commentary from sinkhole expert and Terrafirma CEO and founder, Tom Backhouse.
Terrafirma CEO Discusses Lender Policy on Mine Entries.
Earlier today, Terrafirma's CEO and Founder, Tom Backhouse featured on the new series of the Rip Off Britain: Live Series on BBC One. Tom was invited on to offer advice to a frustrated home-owner who has fallen victim to her property being located close to an historical coal mine shaft, making it impossible to sell.
The property has seen its market value drop by £61,000 and despite being up for sale multiple times, it remained unsold earlier this year at a property auction in the West Midlands.
Land. A word that is defined by its ownership, purpose, value or location and is often viewed, from a local, regional or national economic perspective, for its agricultural or development potential. However, land in the UK is also defined by our geological and extraction history, both of which can pose significant risks to property, investment and people.