Letter to CNJ

LETTERS: Facts not speculation about the ponds

Published: 14 November, 2013, Camden New Journal

• MICK Farrant admits he “can only speculate what, if any, discussions are taking place…” about the City’s proposals for 8ft dams on some of the Heath ponds (Letters, November 7).

It is therefore unfair of him to attribute motives to people he describes as “antis” when he clearly knows nothing about them – even to getting the name of the Heath & Hampstead Society (H&HS) wrong.

The H&HS has never made such an irresponsible claim that the 1975 floods “could never happen again” and would not dream of doing so.

The floods in Gospel Oak have been caused by torrential rainstorms, not water from the ponds, and the City itself admits in its reports that: “storms will still cause floods in the area downstream after the work is complete” and “these works will not prohibit associated flooding from occurring”.

The newspapers of 1975 and, more importantly, Camden and GLC factual reports, over many years, never mention the ponds or the dams as being in any way involved in the flooding of streets in Gospel Oak.

The fact is that in all their 300-year history the dams on the Heath ponds have never collapsed or caused these floods.

A Camden scrutiny report of 2003 on flooding in the borough makes clear that it is the failure of the sewers to cope with the volume of rainwater from various storms that is to blame.

It found that in 1975 flooding was concentrated along the lines of the GLC/Thames Water trunk sewers.  Yet this much more likely danger continues to be ignored.

Gospel Oak residents are being misled into a false sense of security: the City reports make clear that if a thousand people were to be drowned by failure of the sewers, they do not regard it as their problem.

The H&HS, too, are appalled that appropriate, co-ordinated, action has not been taken in all this time by the “three main parties to the debate” to ensure people’s safety.

We and others have challenged the City and its engineering advisers, throughout the consultation process, as to why they are not working with Thames and the council to address the deficiencies of the area’s sewerage and water systems, and develop robust early-warning plans.

They and their engineers are addressing the wrong problem on the basis of a very suspect risk analysis designed to a one-in-400,000 year catastrophe.

No amount of 8ft walls on the Heath will stop torrential rainfall from occurring again but the Heath will have been permanently and irrevocably disfigured for no good reason.