Search

Plans to ‘tear up’ Hampstead Heath pose threat to swans, City warned

16:00 20 February 2014

Ron Vester at the model boating pond in Highgate.

Ron Vester at the model boating pond in Highgate.

Archant

A photographer who has championed Hampstead Heath’s swans for a decade has hit back at claims from broadcaster Bill Oddie that the dams project will be good for wildlife.

Mother swan nips a young female cygnet - one of the picture taken by Ron Vester over the yearsMother swan nips a young female cygnet - one of the picture taken by Ron Vester over the years

Ron Vester has made daily checks on the wellbeing of swans at the Heath’s ponds over the past 10 years, and documented their ups and downs in thousands of photos, from the raising of cygnets to the aftermath of dog ­attacks.

But now he fears these majestic birds – as well as countless other species of wildlife – are facing a threat greater than any out-of-control hound, in the form of the City of London Corporation’s £15million anti-flood scheme.

The Belsize Park resident said: “No-one is willing to say what will happen to our resident wildlife when they come in with great trucks and tear up the Heath for the next several years.

“A number of ponds are going to be turned inside out. There are all kinds of creatures living there and you can’t just pick up a swan and move it, ­because that’s where they live.”

Veteran naturalist Bill Oddie told the Ham&High earlier this month that he backs the dams project partly because it will benefit wildlife, despite him being a patron of the Heath and Hampstead Society which is leading the opposition.

The City says habitats could see improvements such as better reedbeds, marshland, nesting areas and water quality, but Mr Vester is concerned about the immediate impact of the works.

“Bill Oddie said something about how it would benefit wildlife,” he said.

“It may benefit future generations, but it’s not going to benefit current creatures at all. We are all talking about people drowning, but what about our wildlife?”

The photographer has raised his concerns with the City, but he said he felt “fobbed off” by a brief emailed response. Tony Hillier, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society, leading the Dam Nonsense campaign to fight the project, said it was “self-evident” that wildlife would be badly ­affected.

“It is undoubtedly the case that the wildlife will be very severely disrupted by what’s going on – but we have not particularly ­addressed that because our concern is to stop the thing happening because of its long-term ­effects,” he said.

The Heath has 12 swans across three of its Highgate ponds and two in Hampstead.

Jeremy Simons, chairman of the Hampstead Heath Management Committee, said: “The protection of wildlife whilst the works take place will be uppermost in our minds. We have been working closely with landscape architects, ecologists, hydrologists and engineers to ensure that the works will have minimum negative impact and, along the way, improve water quality and biodiversity.”

0 comments

Latest News Stories

BBC director general Tony Hall declared his support for votes at 16 at a talk at La Sainte Union school

The director general of the BBC declared his support for changing the voting age to 16 during a talk to school pupils in Camden today.

12:26
Alan Cartwright, who was killed in Caledonian Road on Friday

A Camden man arrested over the murder of a 15-year-old boy in Islington has been released on bail.

17:00
Cllr Theo Blackwell.

Council tax in Camden will rise by 40p a week from next month as the council signed off the first hike in the levy for six years.

12:00
Lynne Featherstone. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

For better or for worse, the last five years are likely to go down as Lynne Featherstone’s most memorable in politics.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

The latest North London property news and features straight into your inbox.

Other Emails:
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

16-year-old Becky Watts went missing from her home on three weeks ago.

One woman from Dorset certainly thinks he is.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24
Our trusted business finder