Search

Anger as exploratory digging work for Hampstead Heath dams project set to begin

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:41 20 March 2014

A cable percussive rig, one of the pieces of equipmpent that will be used during the ground investigations, at a site near Northampton

A cable percussive rig, one of the pieces of equipmpent that will be used during the ground investigations, at a site near Northampton

Archant

City of London Corporation bosses have been accused of acting unlawfully and riding roughshod over public opinion as exploratory work for the controversial Hampstead Heath dams project begins on Monday.

A Parakeet nesting on the Heath. Picture: Ron Vester A Parakeet nesting on the Heath. Picture: Ron Vester

Engineers are poised to move in with heavy machinery to begin a 10-week ground investigation that will see 100 holes, varying from three to 15 metres deep, bored into the earth.

It is the first work to take place as part of the £15million scheme to stop the Heath’s dams collapsing in the event of an extreme storm.

But the move has alarmed campaigners who insist the Corporation, which manages the Heath, has no right to carry out the digging.

It has yet to lodge a planning application or even an environmental impact assessment with Camden Council.

Tony Hillier, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society, which is leading the Dam Nonsense opposition campaign, said: “The City is acting prematurely and has no legal authority to start the boring. I’m not aware that they have legal authority from Camden to make these holes.”

The Corporation has been reported to the Metropolitan Police’s wildlife crime unit over the works amid fears they pose a threat to nesting birds in breach of wildlife protection laws.

The nesting season lasts from March 1 to July 31 – during which it is forbidden to disturb nesting birds. The Heath’s population includes swans, parakeets and blue tits.

David Lewis, of Protect Our Ponds, who made the reports to police, said: “They are in danger of breaking the law. It’s bird nesting season now and they’re proposing to do intrusive work right through it.

“We don’t know what the effect on the wildlife will be. It’s outrageous.”

Mr Lewis has called for an injunction to halt the ground investigations, which will also see a floating rig erected in the middle of the Model Boating Pond to examine the pond bed.

The Corporation is also facing criticism for “ignoring” the results of its public consultation which are due to be published this week.

The Corporation has admitted that concerns were raised during the consultation about the impact on wildlife and the landscape, and the legality and necessity of the project.

“Their behaviour indicates that they’re utterly sure they’re going to go ahead – and all the consultation is just a bit of a sham,” said Mr Lewis.

A spokesman for the Corporation said the ground investigations were being lawfully carried out.

He said: “The ground investigation work has to be carried out now to avoid undue delay in the proposed project timetable.

“The ground will be checked for nesting birds and, if any are found, the ground investigation will be moved to avoid the bird nest.”

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

We are in a fight for our future: the future of our children, our grandchildren and of our country.

14:30

The collapse of outsourcing firm Carillion has led campaigners battling high speed rail scheme HS2 to call for a halt to its progress.

12:54

Campaigners battling cuts to library services are urging supporters to send in written appeals to the government calling for a public inquiry.

12:25

A recording studio owner is celebrating after winning a fight to stop homes being built on a disused garden.

12:20

Our Lady of Muswell Hill Primary School is on the up after receiving an upgrade in its Ofsted rating.

09:28

Police have shut down a cannabis factory in a daylight raid on an industrial estate.

Yesterday, 12:31

Two men from Camden appeared in court this morning charged with the murder of 25-year-old model Harry Uzoka.

Yesterday, 09:43

Two men from Camden have been charged with the murder of model Harry Uzoka.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Toni Krok, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007, has set up a charity to help people living with the condition and their families adjust to the challenges it brings.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now