Time is running out to sign this petition. However, I hesitated to ask readers to sign it until I had spoken to someone from the local civic society to check out the basic facts. A pro-development lobby just loves to misrepresent green space campaigners as raising automatic knee-jerk opposition to any plans for open space, good, bad or indifferent, and the behaviour of the City of London in the case of the Hampstead ponds has been so bizarre that it I was concerned that readers might assume that we were exaggerating.
The City of London wants to raise a number of dams around the ponds which, it insists, are required by law to protect local people against the risk of flooding with multiple fatalities, should the present system of ponds be overwhelmed by a worst case storm, the chances of which in any year are 1/400,000. Locals say the dams will be an unsightly solution to a vanishingly small threat.
One wonders what the error bars are on this estimate. How accurate are relevant models when it comes to predicting such very low probability events? Should the City of London officials backing this scheme have exercised their critical faculties more diligently, and why didn’t they?
The Friends of Belair Park would not wish to obstruct any bona fide necessary work to protect the public and – looking at a bigger picture – would emphasise that the long-term welfare of our civilisation must depend ultimately upon our determination not to be caught out by relatively rare but catastrophic events. In this case, however, the City Of London does appear to have gone way over the top – unlike the (so far) well-behaved Hampstead ponds.
We suggest that readers take a look at the following brief article from Simon Jenkins commentary in the Evening Standard:
and see the specially-formed campaign group Dam Nonsense:
This is the PETITION: