An engineering project designed to strengthen earth dams and improve wildlife ecology at Hampstead Heath has won the Large Scale Permanent Award, at industry body CIRIA’s BIG Biodiversity Challenge Awards.
The award was given jointly to Heath managers City of London Corporation, project designers Atkins and engineering firm BAM Nuttall for the environmental enhancements and improvements to habitat diversity around the project.
Speaking after the awards ceremony, Karina Dostalova, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Hampstead Heath Committee, said: “A team of landscape architects, ecologists and hydrologists worked alongside engineers to ensure that the works improved water quality and biodiversity at the ponds. Together we created new habitats for birds, amphibians, reptile and invertebrates, planted 25,000 new aquatic plants and sowed new wild flower meadows.
“Thanks must go to all the staff on this project who worked really hard to ensure the Heath’s natural landscape and habitat were preserved and enhanced during the works.”
The Hampstead Heath Ponds Project, led by Heath managers the City of London Corporation, won the award after helping to virtually eliminate the risk of dam failure on Heath ponds during extreme rainfall and major storms.
Three of Hampstead Heath’s ponds are big enough to be classed as ‘large raised reservoirs’ under the Reservoirs Act 1975, which means they hold over 25,000 cubic metres of water and so are legally subject to inspection by a government appointed expert panel engineer.
Detailed studies had shown that dam collapse could have led to severe flooding and even possible loss of life for communities downstream.
Completed on time and on budget and funded by the City Corporation, the project has improved the safety of the ponds’ earth dams and eliminated the risk of dam collapse.
The project was designed to preserve the distinct character of the Heath’s landscape, provide additional habitats for birds, amphibians and invertebrates and improve water quality.
CIRIA is the Construction Industry Research and Information Association. Its BIG Biodiversity Challenge to “do one thing” to increase biodiversity to a construction site, development or existing building was launched in 2013.
Hampstead Heath is located 3.5 miles from Trafalgar Square and receives over 7 million visits a year. The City Corporation spends more than £5 million a year to maintain the Heath which includes a zoo, an athletics track, an education centre, extensive children’s facilities, three swimming ponds and a Lido.
The City of London Corporation manages over 11,000 acres of green space across London and south east England, including Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath and Burnham Beeches, with many of its sites designated National nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest for their unique ecology and rare plant species.