Letter to the Camden New Journal: protecting Hampstead Heath for future generations

13 January 2014

?REF: Letter, Joyce Glasser, City should take the plunge and fight unintended consequences (09/01/14)


The City of London Corporation has a legal responsibility to both protect the Heath (Hampstead Heath Act 1871) and to ensure the safety of the dams on the ponds (Reservoirs Act 1975 and the Flood and Water Management Act 2010) to protect downstream communities from flooding.

There is no conflict of interest here.  Indeed the City Corporation has gone to great lengths in the last 18 months to engage with the local community to develop proposals which balance the protection of the Heath’s wonderful landscape with the safety improvements which are required.

Ms Glasser asks where the money is coming from. The project will be funded solely by the City of London Corporation – using its own money – and the £15 million for this project is being funded separately to the £6million spent annually on managing the Heath (both of these sums are at no cost to the public), so there will be no loss of resource to other aspects of Heath life.

Ms Glasser states that by building higher dams, the ponds will store more water and become a bigger risk. Under the current proposals the water levels on all ponds will remain exactly the same. The higher dams provide extra temporary storage during large flood events with the  water released in a slower, more controlled way.

Ms Glasser may misunderstand the process of risk assessment and the requirements it places on the City Corporation as the owner of dams. Whilst it is unlikely that regular flooding will occur as a result of the ponds overtopping the existing dams or possibly bursting them, there is a serious risk – given particular weather conditions which are sadly now more likely – that occasionally this could happen. We simply cannot just ignore that, failing to strengthen the dams and thus be responsible for parts of north London being flooded with possible loss of life.

The objective is to strengthen the dams to a safe level and at the same time to protect and preserve the environment of the Heath. That is what the current consultation is all about. We welcome everyone’s views, so I urge all CNJ readers to go and see the displays at Parliament Hill staff yard or East Heath car park or go to www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/pondsproject for more information.

Jeremy Simons
Chairman, City of London Corporation’s Hampstead Heath Management Committee

Notes to Editors

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