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Hampstead Heath boss: 'We would welcome High Court ruling that dams project unnecessary'

PUBLISHED: 22:31 05 June 2014 | UPDATED: 11:48 06 June 2014

A pond on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Nigel Sutton

A pond on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

The boss of the controversial Hampstead Heath dams project has announced he would welcome a judge's ruling in favour of the scheme's opponents.

Philip Everett, the City of London Corporation’s director of the built environment, tonight said he would welcome a ruling by the High Court that the £15million project is unnecessary.

He made the admission at a heated public meeting about the project at Parliament Hill School, in Highgate Road, in front of hundreds of residents, pond users, conservationists and campaigners, who appeared to be almost unanimously opposed to the scheme.

It is the first time the City, which runs the Heath, has publicly admitted that such a ruling would be gladly received.

The Heath and Hampstead Society, which is leading the Dam Nonsense opposition campaign, is set to launch a judicial review against the project – and it may do so as soon as next week.

The City still claims its plans to build or enlarge dams across the Heath are required by legislation covering reservoirs. It also believes it may be liable for any deaths contributed to by the collapse of the dams if it does not act, which it estimates would be as many as 300 in the most extreme storm.

The Heath and Hampstead Society insists the works are not required by law – and it is seeking a judge’s ruling to that effect which would confirm the City does not have to go ahead.

Mr Everett was asked several times if he would welcome such a decision by the courts.

Although at first he seemed to avoid giving a yes-or-no answer, he was repeatedly pressed on the point, and eventually gave a resounding “yes”, prompting cheers from the hall.

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