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T5 suffering from subsidence

Heathrow’s Terminal 5 building is suffering from subsidence, BAA has admitted.
Just over a year since its opening, the airport owner has said the foundations are rising with floor tiles reported to have been repaired on the south side of the terminal.

T5 was built on top of a former sewage plant on London clay, notorious for subsidence and movement, especially in the newly built properties.BAA is insisting the problem is minor. A spokesman said: “In a building of this size, there is going to be some level of ground movement, but the fact remains that it is perfectly normal and what would be expected in a structure of this size. The degree of subsidence is in line with what you would expect and is nothing to worry about.”

Subsidence expert Norman Train, vice president of the Institute of Structural Engineers, told The Telegraph: “T5 is like an iceberg - far more of it is below the ground than above. Because clay swells when it is built on there was always going to be movement. There will be movement as part of the bedding in process during the first few years of the construction.”

The environmental group Greenpeace has called for more information to be released about the subsidence before works begin on a new terminal which is being planned just 500 meters from T5.

Ben Stewart, from Greenpeace, said: “We need to know the extent of the subsidence and any data BAA and the Government have on the effect this because it will have an impact on the planned sixth terminal.”


The news is the latest in a line of disasters for the £4.3bn terminal, most notably its botched launch in March last year, which was hailed as a “national humiliation”. The litany of disasters included 20,000 bags being separated from their owners, numerous cancelled flights, transferring passengers missing their connecting flights due to baggage delays, and many airport staff not knowing their way around the terminal.