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.
The age of solely relying on data in environmental risk assessment is over, with a visible shift in the way professionals perceive risks such as contaminated land and flood. Where historically data alone was enough to accept due diligence, now both a professional opinion and interpretative data modelling is a standard in assessing and managing these environmental hazards.
However, despite the significant annual financial expenditure (between 4 and 15% of all Buildings Insurance Claims in the past 5 years were attributed to subsidence) and the increasing visibility of the ‘Sinkhole’ phenomena, this shift in due diligence process has not been replicated in assessing the risks the ground pose.
On the 2nd May 2016 a sinkhole believed to be 60ft deep and 16ft wide opened up on the doorstep of one of Skillcrown Homes new developments within Brickfield Cottages, Plumstead. The result of which led to the establishment of a 25m hazard zone and evacuation of 50 residents by the combined effort of the emergency services and Hexagon Housing, all of which were provided with assistance at a council run rest centre and overnight accommodation by the housing association. Following this, on the 3rd May evacuated residents were reportedly staying with families or in hotels whilst structural engineers looked to secure the site. The result of which, 30 households were returned to normality, whilst 10 awaited contact by Hexagon Housing. The remediation efforts, whether planned, completed or on-going are unknown.