September 16 2014 Latest news:
by Tom Marshall
Monday, August 11, 2014
Campaigners opposed to large-scale engineering works on Hampstead Heath are set to deliver their strongest message yet to Camden’s planning chiefs today, calling on them to save the cherished beauty spot from “permanent damage”.
An online petition launched by the Dam Nonsense campaign group was due to be handed in at Camden Town Hall this morning, after winning mass support from the community - with more than 11,500 people adding their names since it went live last month.
The Dam Nonsense campaigners are fiercely opposed to plans to build or enlarge dams at 12 of the Heath’s ponds, which are being pursued by the public body responsible for the Heath, the City of London Corporation.
The scheme will cost up to £17million and see nearly two years of construction work requiring heavy-duty trucks and machinery, the felling of some 160 trees, and the closures of swimming ponds for months on end.
Opponents say the work will forever change the landscape of one of London’s best-loved green spaces – and leave it “permanently disfigured”.
Dam Nonsense campaigner Mary Powell, the secretary of the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association and the petition’s founder, said: “I am astounded by the level of support the campaign is getting.
“We knew that many people felt strongly about this but the number of signatures we have gained is far beyond what I expected.
“This campaign has been about saving Hampstead Heath for future generations to enjoy.
“It is one of London’s most valued open spaces and has been protected in its natural state since the 19th century.
“It is used by many different groups including walkers, swimmers and anglers.
“Many consider the Heath to be a public health benefit and a haven from city life.”
The City wants to carry out the works to ensure the dams never fail – even in the most extreme storm that is theoretically possible.
They say this could save up to 300 lives, though opponents point out that none of the dams have ever collapsed in their centuries-long history.
The City lodged a planning application with Camden Council last month.
Meanwhile, the Dam Nonsense campaigners, led by the Heath and Hampstead Society, are also due to challenge the City at the High Court.
They are seeking a judicial review to overturn its decision to press ahead with the scheme.