Report of the Director of Open Spaces.
Members considered a report of the Director of Open Spaces providing an update on the Hampstead Heath Ponds and Wetlands Plan.
Members were advised that a previous report was submitted in April 2018 providing a draft outline of the proposed approach to preparing this document. This was renamed the Ponds and Wetlands Plan and picked up the various pond management issues including desilting, ecological impacts and climate change.
The Superintendent sought wider discussion and engagement with Members on the draft Ponds and Wetland Plan and Members were encouraged to provide written comments by 2 November 2020. This feedback would be incorporated into the final strategy to be considered by the Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen’s Park Committee in November.
The following comments were made by Members:
· The Heath and Hampstead Society supported what they regarded to be a well written proposed strategy and felt that PR guidance would be beneficial.
· A Member (Highgate Conservation Area Advisory Committee) felt that the safety of wild waterfowl should be prioritised noting there had been some incidents of attacks by dogs swimming in the ponds. Members agreed more could be done to protect wildlife and it was recommended that Wildfowl Legislation be used to assist rules concerning the proper control of dogs. It was noted that there was a code in place for dog walkers in place.
· A Member (Marylebone Birdwatching Society) noted that dogs were swimming over to the Boating Pond island which needed to be protected. It was suggested that the southside path be fenced off, so visitors only used the path via the dam. Officers confirmed that there were aspirational plans to remove the walkway to the island and protect the natural conservation.
· Injury to swans by angling was reported at the Sports Forum. Members were advised that the Ranger Team worked with the Swan Protection Group to protect swans at the Heath and were addressing dog and angling concerns. It was noted that the swan population had increased.
· In response to a query by a Member (Highgate Society) concerning the biodiversity of the ponds and new species, Officers confirmed that some new invertebrate species had been sighted.
· A Member noted that water quality was potentially being affected by pollution from oil and tanning lotions. Officers confirmed that chemical issues were being assessed including flea control.
· Members welcomed a report on the environmental impact of recreational users followed by a public education programme.
· A Member (London Council for Recreation and Sport) supported the Anglers Association and hoped that a strengthened relationship with the Association would deal with any concerns by anglers.
· It was noted that the common gull mentioned in the report was actually not very common.
RESOLVED – That Members views are sought in relation to the approach, content and recommendations covered in the draft Hampstead Heath Ponds and Wetland Plan (appendix 1).