FEARS THAT a collapsing mine could endanger children forced the closure of a Hertfordshire school this week.
Engineers warned Welwyn & Hatfield district council that parts of the parts of New Briars Primary School's car park and playing field risked falling into collapsing underground mine workings within the next 10 years.
The Briars Lane area of Hatfi d has suffered subsidence since the 1960s and investigations that began in 2001 revealed the area was on top of a former chalk mine.
A detailed risk assessment released by geotechnical engineers at Hyder Consulting last week reveals that 11 properties, the main road and the school were at risk.
The risk assessment was part of larger feasibility study, project managed by Mace. This was carried out to establish the need for land stabilisation with joint funding from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and English Partnerships.
'We aim to submit the study and apply for funding in the next week, ' said Mace project manager Dan Kola.
The project would involve finding voids with grout and using pressure grouting to fill voids in fissured ground around the mining tunnels.
Work would take a year and cost between £2M and £3M depending on the materials used, according to Hyder Consulting Warrington technical director for geotechnics Chris Milne.