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, 15:08
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West has said she will vote down the 'Brexit bill' when it comes before Parliament

Hornsey and Wood Green’s Labour MP Catherine West has said she will vote against Brexit when the referendum bill comes before Parliament in an attempt to undo what she sees as a catastrophic decision by the nation.

Yesterday, 17:50
Police were called to reports of an armed robbery

Officers discovered two men armed with a suspected firearm and a large bladed weapon in the NatWest bank

Yesterday, 09:19
Harrow Crown Court (Picture: PA Images)

A letting agent who conned tenants and landlords out of more than £200,000 as part of a ‘crude fraud’ was handed a four and a half year jail sentence in a courtroom packed by victims.

Yesterday, 08:54
Gavin Brewer (l) and Stuart Meads (r). Facebook

A construction firm has been fined £550,000 for the “wholly preventable” deaths of a police officer and his musician partner who plunged to their deaths after falling through a roadside hoarding in Camden.

Sir Keir Starmer has resigned as shadow Home Office minister

Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer has become the latest politician to quit his shadow ministerial role in a mass exodus from Jeremy Corbyn’s team.

Mon, 12:34
Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer has said the government must now do its best to deliver for the country in the aftermath of the Referendum

Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer has urged the government to make the best of the shock EU Referendum result as the Conservative Party tears itself apart in the aftermath.

Mon, 10:34
The impact of Brexit is being assessed

Workers in the Square Mile are bracing for months of pain as banks and financial institutions begin the process of considering whether to slash jobs or relocate to Europe in the wake of Brexit.

Mon, 09:29
Councillor Andrew marshall

One of Camden’s most Europhile councillors will not seek re-election as a Conservative in 2018 because of his anger at how some within the party behaved during the Referendum campaign.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

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

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe