Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dam Nonsense

Hampstead Ponds Project 

Campaigners who failed to stop a £22 million flood defence programme currently underway on Hampstead Heath might do well to reconsider their position following the catastrophic flooding that has devastated northern towns and cities over the last week. 

Many local groups and individuals put up a sustained fight against the Hampstead Heath Ponds Project, largely based on concerns over environmental damage to a unique and much loved open space. The 16 month dam strengthening and spillway construction works across 12 of the heath's 30 ponds, which began in April, has undoubtedly caused significant localised disruption but, as events up north have shown, blocked-off paths, the loss of a few trees, and some unsightly construction equipment are trivial compared to the damage to homes, businesses, and the environment that would result if the existing dams were to fail. 

One of the arguments used by the Dam Nonsense campaign was that newly weakened government legislation rendered much of the work unnecessary. A much more sensible argument is that the floods in the north demonstrate that government attempts to justify cuts in spending on flood defences by such manoeuvres are extremely foolish – and extraordinarily costly. 

Hampstead Ponds Project