What causes sinkholes?

The recent flooding has caused an unprecedented number of sinkholes to appear in roads and near people's homes. Martin Stew investigates.

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Campaign to improve Thames defences launched

Flooding in Surrey in February 2014 Credit: Twitter/@eagleradio

Seven local authorities who were hit by February's flooding have joined together to ask for £265 million river defences from the Government.

Homes in South Avenue, Egham were flooded in February 2014 Credit: ITV News/Simon Harris

Surrey, Richmond, Kingston, Windsor and Maidenhead, Elmbridge, Spelthorne and Runnymede councils have agreed to create a business case for the River Thames Scheme, to protect riverside homes and businesses by building a flood channel and improving three weirs.

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Residents urge for Government to bid for flood aid

The government is being asked to bid for up to £400 million from a European fund to help parts of the South East hit by flooding this winter.

MEPs will use a debate in the European parliament later to call on the UK government to apply for flood aid.

Catherine Bearder, MEP for the South East, has started collecting signatures in a petition urging the government to bid, which has received over 1000 signatures already.

Satellite image shows surface water runoff after floods

The dark brown area shows the surface water runoff from the recent floods. It happens when the soil is so saturated excess water from rain flows over the land.

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What an image - brown is runoff from floods “@iweathernews: Stunning satellite view of Britain note the runoff http://t.co/h7C1yNCUGQ

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Three-foot deep sinkhole appears in south London street

A sinkhole has appeared in a street in south London. The Sutton Guardian reports the hole is around three feet deep and swallowed the wheel of a car in Maldon Road in Wallington.

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Sinkhole opens up in Wallington as a car drives over it - here's the hole http://t.co/Z1HRXJB2JV

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Sinkholes are caused when the underlying rock is washed away - more exactly by the acid picked up by rain water as it passes through rotting vegetation.

That creates cavities underground which streams can flow through - the more water that flows the quicker the erosion.

Read more: Martin Stew explains what causes sinkholes.

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