Repairs under way on sinkhole on rural road

A rural road with a sinkhole about a metre wide and a couple of feet deep
The road has been closed so that repairs can be carried out [Steven Bridgett ]

Repairs are under way on a rural road after a sinkhole appeared.

It opened up on the C180 road between Swindon and Holystone on Monday, just before Swindon Bridge on the edge of the Northumberland National Park.

Steven Bridgett, the independent county councillor for Rothbury, said he suspected the hole had appeared as a result of "years of poor management and under investment" in rural roads.

Northumberland County Council said the road had reopened and the underlying cause of the sinkhole was being investigated.

A close up view of the sinkhole showing a hole about two-feet deep
There are several different types of sinkhole, also known as dolines, caused by different processes, including dissolution, collapse and erosion [Steven Bridgett ]

According to the British Geological Survey (BGS), a sinkhole is "a natural surface depression caused by dissolution of soluble rocks at depth".

Heavy rain or surface flooding can cause their collapse, as well as construction work or leaking drainage pipes, according to the BGS.

Many are caused by historical mining and the Coal Authority said it had inspected 770 last year.

A traffic management team from the county council has inspected the hole and repairs are being carried out.

However, Mr Bridgett warned it could have caused a "nasty accident" and he was concerned it could happen again.

"It's not the first one we've had, there was another one towards Elsdon a few years ago and that was even bigger," he said.

"What it all gets back to is our inadequate draining system, it is really very poorly managed in this county which is why we have so many potholes.

"Probably what's happened in this case is that water has got underneath the road and has washed away part of the road, but again that is due to poorly maintained drainage," he added.

The Conservative-led council said the most likely reason behind the sinkhole was "related to the exceptionally high rainfall that we have experienced over the winter period this year".

A spokesperson added £36m had been spent on highway maintenance and road repairs in 2024 so far.

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