For four months, seven year old Wiktoria Demska has had to go through her neighbour’s back garden to get to school after a sink hole appeared in front of her home.
Wiktoria and her parents, plus another two sets of neighbours in Cheviot Avenue, Chirnside, have been unable to use their front doors since Sunday, January 17, after the pavement and road in front of their homes collapsed.
Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Water have spent the past four months looking into the problem, and the water company now looks set to take responsibility for carrying out the repairs. Barriers have been put around the area affected, but so far no remedial work has been done.
A spokesperson for Scottish Water confirmed that it had instructed contractors to start work on repairing the damaged road, pavement and sewer next week.
Helen Pearson, of No 9, contacted local councillor Jim Fullarton, and he has been liaising with the council and Scottish Water, and she also received confirmation this week that work is due to start next Monday.
Neighbour Robert Moffat, at No 7, said: “It’s working its way towards my house, and the road is continuing to sink.
“As well as the sink hole, there is a water leak from the stopcock on the footpath which has been running for weeks as well.”
Scottish Water says it is grateful to those affected for their patience, but that patience is wearing thin for Cheviot Avenue’s residents. A Scottish Water spokesperson told the Berwickshire News: “This matter has been under investigation by Scottish Water and Scottish Borders Council and, because damage has been caused to the sewer, we are in the process of arranging for repairs to be carried out.
“We are liaising with a contractor and hope that work will start in the next few days.
“We are grateful to those affected for their patience.”
Sustained periods of wet weather can trigger sink holes, and the road and pavement in Cheviot Avenue collapsed during a particularly wet winter.
In 2014, the British Geological Survey warned that Britain is likely to face more sink holes opening up in the months ahead.
Although sink holes open up for all kinds of reasons, by far the most common cause is a sudden influx of water.
However, scientists believe they are increasingly likely to happen not just because of the saturated ground.
One cause can be changes in the flow of groundwater, including when it is drained away which means the process of drying out may trigger another spate of holes appearing.
In a typical year, geologists would expect to see just one or two sink holes, but numbers have been increasing since 2014.