Campaigners send out 30,000 leaflets as opposition to Hampstead Heath dams project grows
One of the areas on Hampstead Heath where new flood defences are set to be built
Published: 24 January, 2014
By TOM FOOT
CAMPAIGNERS opposing giant flood-barrier dams at the Hampstead Heath ponds have sent out 30,000 leaflets calling for objections to the “unacceptable” and “legally unnecessary” £15million project.
The Dam Nonsense group, set up by the Heath and Hampstead Society, says a “very high-powered legal team” has found major flaws in the City of London’s proposals that will change one of Camden’s most picturesque settings for ever.
The City, which manages the Heath, has set a February 17 deadline for responses to its online questionnaire.
Tony Hillier, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: “The purpose of these leaflets is to help the members of the public who wanted to think about this issue understand it, and how to raise objections.
“We have studied it at huge length and depth, and with our very high-powered legal team, that I think it more high powered than the City’s.”
The City of London say they are legally obliged to accept guidance from their engineers that the dams are necessary to prevent a catastrophic flood like the one in 1975 that destroyed homes in Gospel Oak, Kentish Town and South End Green. Dam Nonsense say the City has misinterpreted this legal requirement and are prepared to take them to the High Court to prove it. The threat of a flood like 1975 is “extreme and hypothetical”, the group added. Its leaflet says that mock-ups of what the new dams will look like are “misleading” and based on a worst-case scenario of the “largest possible flood that could occur”.
Mr Hillier said: “But the main point is that if there is this massive flooding, the homes downstream will be hit way before the collapsing of the dams happens. The only serious way to protect lives is to have serious flood protection in homes and sewers.”
This week, comedian Alan Davies described the scheme on Twitter as “truly nonsensical”.
The City of London said: “The City is giving information and consulting on the work between 26 November 2013 and 17 February 2014. This is your chance to find out more about why the work has to be done and to give us your views.”
The City’s questionnaire is available at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/pondsproject