Search

Bill Oddie backs Hampstead Heath dams project - despite being patron of main opposition group

08:00 06 February 2014

Bill Oddie has supported the Hampstead Heath dams proposals, which he believes may benefit wildlife at the Heath ponds. Picture: Polly Hancock

Bill Oddie has supported the Hampstead Heath dams proposals, which he believes may benefit wildlife at the Heath ponds. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

Broadcaster Bill Oddie has thrown his weight behind the controversial Hampstead Heath dams project, despite being a patron of the society leading the Dam Nonsense opposition campaign.

Possible wildlife benefits of the Heath ponds project according to the City of London Corporation

* New and enlarged reedbed areas – which provide a good habitat for pond life and for wading birds

* Increased bird nesting area and shelter for overwintering species such as water rail and bittern

* Increase in amphibian and fish spawning sites

* Increased grass snake habitat

* Improvement in water quality through pond aeration which leads to a decrease in nutrients released from sediment

* Sediment removal

* Increase area of wet woodland – again good habitat for amphibians

* Extra marshland habitat

The wildlife expert and former star of The Goodies told the Ham&High he would not be “toeing the party line” of the Heath and Hampstead Society because he supports the direction taken by the City of London Corporation.

The Hampstead resident insisted that people should trust the advice of the City’s experts and be less resistant to changes on the Heath.

He also believes the £15million project, which would see dams raised by as much as 18ft, is likely to benefit wildlife at the ponds.

“My feeling is that first of all, as regards the safety angle, one really has to trust people on that one,” the 72-year-old said.

“You get opposition where people say, ‘I don’t think it’s necessary’. Unless you’re an expert on flood water management, you have got to accept what the responsible survey has suggested.”

The City of London, which manages the Heath and is currently consulting on the plans, insists the engineering works are 
required by law to prevent the dams breaching in the event of a catastrophic flood.

The City’s experts say as many as 1,400 people could drown in downstream communities like Gospel Oak and South End Green in the worst-case scenario, but that the planned dam improvements could save about 300 of those lives.

However, the Heath and Hampstead Society, which counts Mr Oddie among its patrons, says the project is the greatest threat the Heath has ever faced and could leave it “permanently disfigured”.

Comedian Alan Davies and violinist Nigel Kennedy are among those who have backed the society’s Dam Nonsense campaign calling on the City to downscale its proposals.

The society is considering launching a High Court legal challenge if the City rejects its pleas.

But Mr Oddie suggested much of the opposition is from people who simply do not want change.

He said: “Unfortunately that attitude comes across often enough. But [the Heath] does change, nature changes it anyway. We can’t say we want it to stay as it is, because it won’t.”

He added: “Having looked at the plans and photographs and artists’ impressions, it seems to me that the intention is in the right place.

“I am most concerned about whether it provides good habitats for wildlife and the plans they have might very well make it better for wildlife.

“Assuming they carry them out as planned, I hope I’m still around to see all this. It seems to me the intention is in the right place and I’m prepared to trust the people doing this.”

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 15:16
Police arrived at the Hornsey Tavern. Photo: Crouch End TV

A man who was stabbed in the stomach area rushed into a nearby pub in Hornsey where his ‘life was saved’ by a nurse who happened to be there.

Yesterday, 10:41
Police were called to reports of a stabbing

Police responded after a man was stabbed on High Street in Hornsey yesterday evening at 9pm

Tue, 22:32
Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward will remain at the helm after seeing off a challenge from Cllr Sally Gimson

There will be no change at the top of Camden Council after leader Sarah Hayward saw off a challenge from within and defeated Labour rival Sally Gimson.

Tue, 19:08
Tom Franklin with supporters, including Green Party mayoral candidate Sian Berry, outside court

Eight campaigners cleared of any wrongdoing for their part in an arms fair protest may be dragged back to court after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lodged an appeal.

Tue, 18:06
Advertising banners on lampposts in Haverstock Hill

Residents in Belsize Park say large estate agents banners which have gone up on lampposts throughout the area are an “ugly” eyesore and should not have been allowed by Camden.

Tue, 17:38
Thames Water have discovered a well under Muswell Hill Broadway

Haringey Council has invited English Heritage to investigate the well’s history

Tue, 17:23
Tulip Siddiq MP and Chris Percy with their newborn daughter Azalea Joy Percy

MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, Tulip Siddiq, has said that mums being prevented from breastfeeding in public is “depressing” after a group of women were banned from breastfeeding at the Swiss Cottage Marriott.

Tue, 17:20
Air pollution public meeting at St Stephens
Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air London

A citizen science project has confirmed what Camden residents and environmentalists have long suspected - that we are breathing in dangerous levels of toxins right across the borough, even at the leafy heart of Hampstead Heath.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe