Battle over Hampstead Heath ponds dam project reignites after new government information emerges

PUBLISHED: 11:30 15 April 2015 | UPDATED: 11:36 15 April 2015

Members of ladies', men's and mixed pond associations, the Heath and Hampstead Society, the Highgate Society, and other grousp continue to campaign against the proposed dams project on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Polly Hancock

Members of ladies', men's and mixed pond associations, the Heath and Hampstead Society, the Highgate Society, and other grousp continue to campaign against the proposed dams project on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Polly Hancock


A government report brought to light this week has shown there is no justification for the controversial ponds project, conservationists have claimed.

Campaigners are taking a desperate last stand against the £15million dams engineering scheme, which would drastically alter the 300-year-old ponds.

New government guidance on small reservoirs – which applies to all but three of the Heath’s ponds – states that they will not now be subject to strict safety regulations.

Opponents of the project say that there is therefore no reason why the ponds project should still go ahead.

Heath and Hampstead Society vice-president Helen Marcus said: “To me, it takes away the whole reason the City of London claims they had to do this.”

The Dam Nonsense campaigners made the claims as construction works began on Monday on the scheme to raise the dams by as much as 2.5m.

The City of London Corporation, which runs the Heath, argued that the new government guidance does not affect the ponds project in any way.

The report states that safety measures, such as strengthening dams, are only required for large reservoirs under the Reservoirs Act 1975. It goes on to add that plans to introduce new legislation to cover smaller reservoirs have been put on hold over concerns about unjustified cost until the next Parliament.

There is currently “no evidence base” for the changes to the law, the report states.

Only three of the Heath’s ponds are classed as large reservoirs – the Men’s, Model Boating Pond and Hampstead No 1. However, the dams project will involve altering all of the Heath’s ponds. An unsuccessful judicial review to halt the project last year hinged on the reservoir safety legislation.

Mrs Marcus said: “Most people feel that the risk to the three ponds has been grossly exaggerated anyway.”

A spokesman for the City of London said: “The City has chosen to spread the required safety works across the ponds in the chains rather than focusing heavy engineering on just the three large raised reservoirs.

“This allows us to use a ‘soft engineering’ approach, safeguarding the Heath’s landscape and avoiding any big concrete dams in the project. The work taking place is vitally important to safeguard the downstream community.

“The scheme also future proofs the Heath from engineering works required when the 2010 Act is fully introduced.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:10

Jerry Springer argued Donald Trump is destroying the American dream – as he spoke movingly about how his parents were saved from the Nazis and brought over to England from Germany.

Yesterday, 12:32

Hundreds came out with the sun for the South End Green Festival on Sunday, with music, food, drinks, a craft stall, a children’s fair, and a highly competitive dog’s show.

Yesterday, 12:00

The Hampstead Summer Festival kicked off with hundreds flocking to the art fair at Whitestone Pond.

Yesterday, 08:07

George Michael fans gathered outside the star’s home in The Grove, Highgate, to mark what would have been his fifty-fourth birthday on Sunday.

Yesterday, 08:06

A leaseholders association is claiming victory over Haringey Council after an apparent U-turn over residents’ rights.

Yesterday, 07:57

Around 200 residents who have refused to leave their homes in the fire trap Chalcots Estate tower blocks claim they are being intimidated by security guards.

Yesterday, 07:31

Sixty firefighters tackled a fire in Gospel Oak last night.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ham&High editor Emily Banks writes:


Often one of the most daunting parts of going through a divorce or separation is knowing what steps to take first and how to deal with financial issues which arise. Here, Jessica Palmer of Streathers Solicitors in Hampstead, offers answers to commonly asked questions

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


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now