Majority of people opposed to Hampstead Heath dams project, new figures reveal
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Hampstead Heath bosses are set to plough on with their much-criticised dam engineering project, despite new figures that have revealed most people are against them.
The City of London Corporation, which is in charge of the Heath, has this week published the full results of a three-month consultation exercise that was carried out over the winter.
The 105-page report reveals that nearly two-thirds of the 1,155 people who filled out the questionnaire gave the worst possible rating, on a scale from one to five, for all of the Corporation’s proposals for enlarging dams at 11 of the Heath’s 30 ponds.
Meanwhile, an average of less than 10 per cent of respondents gave the most positive score to any of the options.
Tony Hiller, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society and spokesman for the Dam Nonsense opposition campaign, said the results were a “disaster” for the City.
“It was an endorsement of the Dam Nonsense campaign because two thirds of people were as strongly opposed to the proposals as they could be, and less than 10 per cent were strongly in favour,” he said.
“It leaves the City without public support, but they’re not interested in public support – they’re saying it doesn’t matter.”
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The Dam Nonsense campaigners insist the City has exaggerated the threat of the dams failing in the event of an extreme storm, pointing out that they have never collapsed in the ponds’ 300-year history.
They have also cast doubt over City claims that the works are required by law.
Heath and Hampstead Society vice president Helen Marcus said: “The consultation confirms what we said in the first place – people do not want the Heath spoiled for such a remote idea of risk.
“If I were someone in the City I would be very embarrassed.”
The City insists that the primary aim of the consultation was to help choose between four variations on the main plan to build dams of up to 18ft on the Hampstead side of the Heath and 8ft on the Highgate side.
However, the majority of people who responded focused on whether the project should go ahead at all.
There was little difference in preference between the options and “many of the results do not actually inform the forward stage of the project”.
In a letter to the Ham&High this week, Jeremy Simons, chairman of the Heath Management Committee, said: “The recent three-month public consultation was vitally important.
“Whilst the results found there was very little difference in opinion between the options, we were able to reach large numbers of people and find out their concerns which will be taken into account as the project progresses.”
The consultation report can be seen at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/pondsproject.