Heritage protection for the twenty-first century

A response by RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust
15A Bull Plain Hertford SG14 1DX Tel. (01992) 553377 E-mail: rescue@rescue-archaeology.freeserve.co.uk Introduction RESCUE welcomes the opportunity to comment on the White Paper Heritage protection for st the 21 century. This response summarises the views of RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust alone, but as members of Heritage Link we also support the views expressed in the document compiled by Heritage Link with the participation of its members. We particularly welcome the following proposals as representing the achievement (in part or in full) of issues that have concerned RESCUE and other heritage organisations for a number of years: • • • • • • The creation of a unified system for national designation to replace the current categories of listing, scheduling and registering The devolution of the responsibility for designation from the Secretary of State to English Heritage The creation of a statutory status for Historic Environment Records (HER) with the scope described in section 1.4 paragraphs 20-23 The revocation of Class Consent number 1, in respect of archaeological sites on cultivated land The removal of the defence of ignorance in respect of an area which receives statutory protection through the scheduling process in relation to unauthorised works The expansion of the definition of archaeological monuments to include those relatively ephemeral sites of early human activity which do not include permanent structures

The details of these and other proposals are considered in detail below, along with our concerns about the practical implementation of the proposals and the absence of policies pertaining to other aspects of the historic environment. General issues There are a number of important issues which occur repeatedly in relation to different parts of the White Paper and in order to avoid undue repetition these are summarised here, with reference made as appropriate to the relevant sections of the document. Resources While the White Paper outlines a number of changes to the present system which we can support, the major omission is any reference to an increase in resources which will be needed to underpin and support the proposals if they are to be implemented effectively. This is particularly critical in two areas; funding for English Heritage and funding for local authorities. English Heritage has seen progressive and crippling cuts to its budget over the last decade with a consequent decline in staff numbers and an increase in the workload for those who remain. Changes to the roles played by English Heritage are outlined at various points in the document (including section 1.1 paragraphs 27&28, section 1.2 paragraph 26, section 1.3, paragraph 37, section

1.4 paragraphs 15 and 24) but we are concerned that these are not matched by an explicit commitment to the increased funding which will be necessary if these are to be implemented efficiently and comprehensively. We would expect to see this matter addressed as a matter of urgency as it underpins much else that is proposed in the White Paper. We would draw attention particularly to the resource implications of the new designation process and the expansion of HELM. At the same time, we note the ongoing decline in English Heritage’s ability to promote and to undertake the kind of basic research and investigation which is impossible within the commercial sector but which is nevertheless vital if archaeology is to fulfil its potential as a dynamic sector of the economy and of society. RESCUE has drawn attention to the problems in the funding of heritage services by local authorities on numerous occasions over the last ten years but unfortunately the Government has not seen fit to take steps to remedy these. Currently heritage services are amongst the first to be the victims of financial cuts in the annual review of local authority spending, as evidenced by the decline in the numbers of Conservation Officers and SMR/HER officers across the country. While we welcome the commitment to make the provision of a Sites and Monuments Record / Historic Environment Record a statutory responsibility on local authorities (section 1.4 paragraph 19), we are concerned that without a commitment to an increase in financial support for this initiative, local authorities will oppose this vital reform or will fail to allocate sufficient resources for the creation of adequate heritage protection services. We note the positive reference (section 1.4, paragraph 22) to the need for ‘skilled curatorial staff’ and suggest that what is required is a revision of section 1.4, paragraph 19 to read ‘a statutory duty for local authorities to maintain or have access to a historic environment service including a HER’. Relationship to other government plans for reform RESCUE notes the publication in May 2007 of the Planning White Paper with its sweeping proposals for the reform of the planning system. RESCUE will be making its views known on this document in due course, but for the purposes of the heritage protection review we should note that we are of the opinion that the protection of heritage assets and resources is intimately tied up with the planning process and we are firmly opposed to any proposals which do not strengthen the position of heritage within the planning system. We have argued consistently for the replacement of Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) notes 15 and 16 with a statutory system and would expect to see the Heritage Protection and Planning White Papers offering a high degree of integration in this respect. This is an area in which the often-cited principle of ‘joined-up government’ is absolutely vital if the system which emerges after the implementation of the provisions of the two White Papers is to offer the kind of efficient and well-planned protection to the historic environment which is required. RESCUE would argue that the Heritage Protection White Paper should include an explicit restatement of the importance of PPG 16 as the primary means by which provision is made for the archaeological recording of unknown, undesignated and locally designated archaeological sites and monuments prior to their alteration or destruction through development and other kinds of nonreversible impact. Museums and archaeological archives RESCUE is concerned that there is no mention in the White Paper of the serious problems being experienced by commercial archaeological contractors and local and regional museums in respect of the storage of the archaeological archives generated as a result of work undertaken under PPG 16. The lack of core funding for local and regional museums means that in many areas of the country there is inadequate provision for the transfer of archives from archaeological contractors to the museums which should be receiving them and providing the kind of long term curation and storage that they require. These archives represent the outcome of the principle of preservation by record which is enshrined in PPG 16 and which underlies archaeological practice. They thus form as integral a part of the historic environment as do sites and monuments which are preserved in situ and as such require that adequate provision to be made for them. RESCUE has highlighted this issue on

a number of occasions and it is disappointing to see that the opportunity represented by the heritage protection review has not been taken to address it. Specific comments In addition to the general points made above and our responses to the three specific questions posed in section 4 (which are discussed below), we have a number of observations on the details of the White Paper which are best dealt with section by section. Section 1.1 Designation: what do we protect and how RESCUE welcomes a number of the points covered in section 1.1 and is pleased to be able to support these. We believe that the proposed system of designation will be a great deal clearer than the current system and that this will have advantages both for the heritage sector and for the general public. It is both logical and appropriate that English Heritage should take over responsibility for designation, although, as noted above, this will have resource implications for English Heritage which are not addressed in the White Paper. RESCUE is particularly pleased with the commitment that only architectural, historic or archaeological interest will be used to determine designations (paragraphs 11 – 14). We see this as a positive statement affirming that commercial issues in favour of specific development (for example) will not be taken into account when making a designation. Having said this, there remain a number of areas pertaining to this section where we have concerns and we believe that these need addressing when the contents of the White Paper are reviewed prior to the drafting of legislation and new planning guidance. Areas of Archaeological Importance (AAI): RESCUE regrets that the concept of the AAI was never expanded beyond a few historic town centres (paragraph 14) and that at present the only area designations proposed are World Heritage sites, historic parks & gardens, battlefields and locally designated conservation areas – all of which will continue to be dealt with through the planning system rather than requiring specific consents. There are a considerable number of examples both in the built environment and the archaeological and historic landscape where the sum of the parts gives a greater importance than the individual elements. There may well be scope within the new system for more grouped assets, but this will need highlighting positively in guidance. In the past the targets based on numbers of designated sites/buildings has militated against such an approach – for example the re-scheduling of Bronze Age barrow cemeteries under the Monuments Protection Programme still resulted in the designation of individual standing earthworks and not the potentially significant spaces between them. In future, any quantification of designated sites and monuments should include measures of the areas covered (now easily achieved using geographical information system (GIS) technology) as well as individual asset records. RESCUE notes that local authorities will retain the statutory duty to designate conservation areas (paragraphs 23 – 25), but clarification is now needed as to whether they will be similarly empowered or required to designate wider ‘heritage’ conservation areas, which could potentially include significant buried archaeological landscapes and parts of the historic countryside. RESCUE notes that there is no mention of the Historic Landscape Characterisation process or of its considerable contribution to the assessment of areas of historic significance. We feel that this should be included as an integral part of every Historic Environment Record. RESCUE agrees that all existing Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAM) should receive Grade 1 status on the new register, a recognition that the overwhelming majority are of national (or international) significance. We would not expect to see any significant removals from the list of designated sites during the process of regrading. We note that there is no existing archaeological equivalent to buildings which enjoy a measure of protection at the Grade II* and II levels and this highlights a potential discrepancy between the two systems which may require attention. Existing SMR/HER lists contain far more sites and monuments than are covered by SAM status and should provide the basis for the designation process. RESCUE notes that there is no mention in this section of the problems which surround archaeological discoveries. We presume that this is because the system being proposed is designed

to replace the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act (AMAAA). We would emphasise that the proposed changes to the planning system will require close attention to ensure that the PPG16-based system to deal with unquantifiable and/or unknown archaeological potential is retained. As noted above, this is one area where the Planning and Heritage Protection White Papers should converge in order to provide comprehensive protection for the historic environment in all its diverse aspects. Section 1.2 Designation: how the system will work RESCUE welcomes those proposals for change which will lead to the raising of awareness amongst the public over the nature of the historic environment, its specific importance in creating a sense of community and identity and the complex issues surrounding how best to conserve the structures, sites and landscapes that constitute the historic environment. We expect that the unified list of designated sites, structures and monuments will be clearer for the public, developers and politicians alike to understand and we welcome the greatly enhanced protection for a great many currently undesignated archaeological sites that this system will bring. We also wholeheartedly approve of the fact that the historic gardens and battlefields will be brought into the system and will receive appropriate protection. The introduction of interim protection for historic assets whilst the designation process is being conducted (paragraphs 28-31) is an extremely positive move, and will, we hope, prevent situations such as the demolition of the Firestone Factory over the August bank holiday in 1980. The more rapid delivery of designation decisions should also help to ensure that the public and the government retain support for the system, as speed is usually (if often inaccurately) equated with efficiency. As the foregoing implies, we are fully supportive of many of the proposed initiatives outlined in the White Paper, but we retain a number of concerns pertaining to this section. Public involvement (paragraphs 4 and 5), while generally to be welcomed, can be something of a double-edged sword in the field of heritage protection as it may be as often misinformed and reactive as it is informed and appropriate. Care must be taken to ensure that suitably qualified expert opinion is the key to informing designation decisions, particularly where archaeological sites and monuments are concerned. We would be extremely concerned if the proposed system were to lead to any sort of repetition of the Seahenge affair (for example) in which the interests of a small number of ill-informed and confused protestors were, with the backing of self-interested parties, able to place impediments in the way of an effective archaeological response to a grave situation facing a monument of extremely high archaeological value. RESCUE is concerned that greater public access to information about the precise location of archaeological sites could place them in jeopardy from artefact hunters (paragraphs 14 – 20). Any new system should include provision to extend the prohibition on metal detecting and other forms of artefact hunting currently enjoyed by Scheduled Ancient Monuments to all classes of designated archaeological sites and monuments. We have some concerns about the status of the existing lists of designated sites and proposals for a thematic approach to designation in the future. The thematic approach as exemplified by the Monuments Protection Programme has failed to deliver protection to many classes of significant archaeological site over the two decades and, extraordinary though this may seem, has been used as a reason not to ‘spot schedule’ sites except where there is a very specific and urgent threat to a site of very high national importance. As an example, RESCUE has recently learned of the extraordinary lack of protection for the greater part of the area of the major late Iron Age settlement at Bagendon in Gloucestershire. Every county in Britain could produce a list of key sites of this kind which have been inadequately designated or not designated at all. Similarly there are known gaps in quality in the buildings list, including those areas not covered by the 1980’s re-listing process. There is clearly a need to invest in the designation process to avoid any perceived or actual lack of quality in the new register of assets which will otherwise lead to a lack of confidence in the system. As noted above, the question of additional resources for English Heritage and for local authorities is a matter of considerable concern here and it will be necessary to ensure that the

financial impact of the changes in designation will not have a negative financial impact on other aspects of the work of either English Heritage or of individual local authorities. Section 1.3 Heritage protection and planning RESCUE welcomes the principal points made in this section, particularly the commitment to the introduction of the unified designation system which will see all existing Scheduled Ancient Monuments achieving Grade 1 listed status with the expectation that the addition of the Grade II* and II categories will allow a measure of protection to be extended to sites which are currently at risk of destruction or serious damage. As a general point, we note that section 1.3 as a whole lacks any discussion of Historic Landscape Characterisation and the advances in this field that that have taken place in the last few years. This is particularly disappointing as the subject is specifically highlighted for development in the Welsh section of the document (discussed below). A crucial part of section 1.3 deals with the consent regime and we note with some concern the statement in paragraph 8 regarding the possibility of future changes to the consent regime in connection with the Barker Review. RESCUE will monitor this issue and will be ready to oppose any relaxation of the consent regime which threatens the historic environment and, most particularly, archaeological sites or areas of archaeological sensitivity or potential. Once again we note the importance of considering the issues of integration between planning regulations (as represented by the current Planning White Paper) and heritage protection (paragraph 5). We hope and expect that the streamlined Historic Asset Consent procedure (paragraphs 9 – 13) will help concentrate the attention of developers on their obligations towards the historic environment and will enhance their understanding of their wider social responsibilities. We also look forward to the implementation of statutory management plans which will establish the importance of a site and the types of development that will be considered acceptable. This will significantly reduce the potential for conflict during the planning process, to the benefit of all parties. We anticipate that pre-application discussions will work much more efficiently if/when such management plans are in place. We remain less than convinced that Conservation Area Consent will be well-served by a merger with Planning Consent (paragraphs 14 – 20) and would suggest that a more positive change might be the creation of a ‘Protected Area Consent’, which could include natural heritage as well as the historic environment. As the proposal stands, the creation of management plans for historic sites will require a great deal of work particularly if they are to be statutory in nature. The question of resources will be of critical importance in this respect and the lack of a positive commitment to increased investment is a matter of considerable concern. The proposal as it stands will put a great deal of pressure on existing local authority and English Heritage resources at a time when many local authorities are so under-resourced that they can no longer offer pre-application discussion as a planning service and have to refuse to discuss proposals prior to the submission of a planning application, even where it is clear that such a service would be highly beneficial to developers, heritage managers and archaeologists. This lack of adequate resources will need to be addressed as a matter of priority if this commitment is to be fulfilled If a unified, joined-up system of heritage protection is truly the intention of the White Paper, then the protection from demolition for locally designated buildings should be extended to ‘Historic Assets’ of all types (and most notably to archaeological sites) and should not be limited to standing buildings. While we welcome as sensible the unification of the system so that all applications for Historic Asset Consent are made to and dealt with by the local planning authority, it remains unclear under what circumstances either English Heritage or Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will be involved in the process. It is essential that the guidance reinforces the need for local authorities to have access to and to make use of high quality professional advice, particularly in the context of archaeological sites. This is of particular importance in those situations in which the relevant professionals are not based in the local planning authority but in a higher tier of local

government such as county councils. The process described in Annex 2 should include a requirement for consultation with appropriate specialist and local societies and groups as well as the national amenity societies (page 63; ‘Considering applications’). In a number of areas (notably, but not only, military and industrial history) such groups represent bodies of detailed specialist knowledge whose contribution is essential in the Consent process. With regard to the issue of Class Consent and plough damage to archaeological sites (paragraphs 47 – 51), the proposals represent a positive move and which should go a long way towards addressing the problems of ploughing on protected sites. The proposals to strengthen provision for local designation and protection processes should be applauded, not only for the added protection offered to specific sites, but because they will give the wider community a sense that they have a vested interest in and ownership of the Historic Environment. While we welcome the commitment to remove Class Consent No. 1 (paragraph 49) we would dispute the statement (also in paragraph 49) that there is not the evidence base to justify removing areas of land from cultivation, which is what revocation of the Class Consent should involve (similarly paragraph 50 stresses enabling continued cultivation). Data collected by the COSMIC survey (data cited in note 39) demonstrates that a very high proportion of the sites considered are at high risk. Compared to the size of the archaeological resource Scheduled Ancient Monuments represent only a tiny proportion of the whole and of the designated sites only some are affected by cultivation. Given the evidence collected by the Monuments at Risk and COSMIC surveys, the assumption should be that cultivation of a nationally important site is detrimental to its long term integrity unless it can be shown to be otherwise. We agree that current agricultural schemes provide one mechanism for determining the management of monuments currently under the plough, but the guidance must make it clear that professional (archaeological) advice should be sought in relation to their planning and implementation. RESCUE is also concerned to ensure that the resumption of ploughing after the expiry of a ten year agreement (paragraph 50) should not be an option without specific Historic Asset Consent. Any ‘willing’ landowners who cannot get an agricultural scheme (if, for example, national or regional DEFRA resources are low) could then enter into a Heritage Partnership Agreement for management as suggested in paragraph 50. RESCUE believes that there should also be a strategy in place to deal with those circumstances in which the landowner is not interested in volunteering for any form of management agreement so that cultivation does not continue indefinitely. The experience of Verulamium showed that it can take decades of sustained lobbying to resolve a problem where both local authority and English Heritage archaeologists were clear that damage to the site was ongoing and substantial but where the landowner was reluctant to take decisive action to protect a site of national importance. Statutory protection for World Heritage Sites (paragraphs 52 – 55) is long overdue and this proposal represents a significant step towards allaying criticism from UNESCO and in enhancing the protection of some of the most significant sites in the country (particularly those in London) from the negative impact of inappropriate development. We remain concerned, however, that this proposal may conflict with some aspects of the recent Barker Report and with the recently published Planning White Paper. We hope and expect that debate on the issues raised by both the Barker Report and the Planning White Paper will be informed by an understanding of heritage protection issues in relation to the planning system. With reference to the discussion of the demolition of unlisted buildings (paragraph 60), we note that as well as ‘locally designated’ buildings there are significant numbers of buildings for which outline records exist on HERs (including significant industrial sites and military structures) where at least recording should be an option prior to demolition. RESCUE would suggest that all existing HER sites should be regarded, as ‘locally designated’ as a minimum. The procedure outlined in paragraph 60 seems unduly complex and it would be far simpler to make application for planning consent a requirement for demolition of any locally designated structure, along with buildings within Conservation Areas as proposed in paragraphs 14 - 20. RESCUE is deeply concerned at the retention of the Ecclesiastical Exemption from the normal planning process (paragraphs 21 – 24). A number of recent cases have clearly demonstrated

the lack of any effective protection for historic churchyards and their uniquely valuable contents (exemplified by the cases of the St Pancras cemetery and the Sheffield Cathedral cemetery) and the tendency for the ecclesiastical authorities to embark on programmes of work which fail to include adequate provision for archaeology (as highlighted by the recent case of St George’s Church, Southwark). The levels of protection required for ecclesiastical sites (mentioned in paragraph 22) are clearly inadequate and we regret that the opportunity has not been taken to bring such important sites wholly within an integrated heritage protection system. Section 1.4 Historic environment services a local level RESCUE welcomes the long overdue decision to make provision for and/or access to a Historic Environment Record a statutory responsibility on local authorities (paragraphs 19 – 24) and we await the precise details of the form that this will take. We are particularly keen that the provision of HERs should remain the responsibility of local authorities (with suitable training and support provided by English Heritage) and we will regard with considerable scepticism any proposal which will involve commercial companies taking on responsibility for the provision of any HER. To allow such a development would be to open up the possibility of conflicts of interest, should firms offering consultancy services to the development community be simultaneously involved in the provision of planning advice or the monitoring of archaeological work as providers of HER services. This caveat aside, however, we can offer wholehearted support to this proposal. RESCUE welcomes the acknowledgement that a dedicated training programme will be required to help local authority-based archaeologists to adjust to the changes envisaged in the White Paper (paragraph 24) as we regard the current situation as regards training and career development in archaeology as one which is failing to meet the needs of the sector. We look forward to the development of comprehensive regimes of training and career development with particular emphasis on keeping HER and other local authority heritage service staff in touch with the fast moving developments in period and area studies and in developments in the principles and theories which underlie the practice of archaeology. While the role of English Heritage is crucial here, we would also look to the university sector and specialist period, region or subject societies and study groups as possible providers of practical training for HER staff. This having been said, the training provided must be seen to be adequate for the task in hand; archaeology is an extremely broad subject which crosses a significant number of institutional boundaries. Short courses on specific aspects of archaeology are inadequate to the task of providing a rounded appreciation of the complexity of the subject for those who do not have an archaeological background. Standards of training must be of an acceptable level or the results will be inadequate to the task in hand. It should be understood from the outset that different types of archaeological site will require different expertise from within the local authority and that these differences must be catered for through the employment of specialist buildings and archaeological staff who are fully conversant with their own disciplines. RESCUE would like to see clarification of a number of points in the White Paper. These include the precise definition of ‘capacity building’ (e.g. paragraph 24) in terms of the extent and nature of the proposed investment which appears inherent in the use of this phrase. Currently the provision of local authority based historic environment services varies widely across the country from areas which have virtually no effective provision for development control and monitoring (e.g. Northamptonshire and Southend) to counties or districts where provision may be described as adequate. RESCUE would like to see details of the types of proposed guidance to be supplied by English Heritage and some indication of the scale of the increased investment which the creation of statutory HER services will require. Questions of funding and resources are, as has been noted above, not addressed in any detail in the White Paper and RESCUE is deeply concerned about this omission (e.g. in paragraphs 7, 15, 20 and 24). As regards the provision of HER services specifically we have no expectation that extra resources will arrive through self-imposed pressure on local authorities from increased public awareness and use of the HER. Local authorities have demonstrated quite clearly their lack of commitment to heritage services at times of financial pressure or when the funding of other, higher profile, services are seen to be the key to electoral success. Recent decisions by a significant number

of authorities to close or substantially reduce the effectiveness of local museums by making staff cuts or through the sale of assets (including, for example, Bury, Stoke-on-Trent, Leicester) or by the wholesale elimination of heritage services (Northamptonshire) provide a salutary lesson in the lack of commitment that elected members and officers can display towards heritage services. While RESCUE supports the commitments made in the White Paper, we shall monitor both the legislation arising from it and subsequent implementation in order to assess the way in which the proposals work in practice. Part 2 Protecting the historic environment in Wales As with the proposals for England, RESCUE supports the general principles of streamlining the existing heritage protection system and for making it both more transparent and easier to understand. We do not entirely understand why the provisions for Wales should differ significantly from those proposed for England, given that the challenges faced by the historic environment from development, climate change and other pressures are broadly similar in both Wales and in England. Our concerns over the levels of investment and resourcing are generally similar for both Wales and England and we hope that both CADW and Welsh local authorities will be given appropriate increases in financial support in order to enable them to carry out their work in respect of the historic environment. In general terms we would expect the historic environment in Wales to be accorded the same levels of protection as it is in England and in this regard we can offer support the following proposals: • • • • • • A new and comprehensive national register of historic sites and buildings in Wales (paragraphs 20 & 21); The inclusion of registered parks and gardens on the statutory list (paragraph 20); The updating of detailed list descriptions where required (paragraph 22); The implementation of Heritage Partnership Agreements (paragraph 34); The bringing of the control of the demolition of locally listed buildings within the development control sphere (paragraphs 31 & 32) The importance of Historic Landscape Characterisation as a means of understanding a wide variety of landscape types and of aiming the process of development control (paragraph 35). We would suggest that landscape characterisation is as applicable in England as in Wales and are uncertain as to why it has not been given equal weight throughout the White Paper; We are as keen to see the introduction of statutory HERs in Wales as we are in England and have the same concerns regarding the organisation of HER provision in Wales as are outlined for England. In particular we note the phrase ‘through the agency of others’ (paragraph 38) in relation to HER provision. We would reiterate our concerns around the provision of historic environment services on a commercial basis and are of the opinion that such HER services and, in particular planning advice should remain in the public sector in order to avert any danger of a conflict of interest within commercial firms. RESCUE remains concerned over a number of issues. These include the following: • Battlefields (paragraph 21); we do not understand why it should be more difficult to identify and protect Welsh battlefields than it is English battlefields and we would expect similar levels of protection to be applied to both, whichever side of the border they lie on.

Ecclesiastical exemption (paragraph 33); as outlined in the case of England, RESCUE does not support the treatment of ecclesiastical properties as a ‘special case’, given recent controversies over the apparent failure of the ecclesiastical authorities to understand or make provision for adequate archaeological intervention in a number of high-profile situations. We feel that the same principle applies in Wales as in England with respect to the Ecclesiastical Exemption.

Part 3 Protecting the marine historic environment in the UK Rescue has a number of concerns regarding part 3 of the White Paper Protecting the marine historic environment in the UK. Before commenting on specific points in the text, a number of general points can be made. These underlie some of the more detailed comments set out below. Firstly RESCUE would urge the government to ratify the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage as a matter of urgency. This will not only allow its provisions to operate within UK territorial waters but will also provide a lead for other nations and, it is hoped, improve the protection for the marine heritage globally. Secondly, RESCUE notes that while the present Archaeological Monuments and Areas Act 1979 could be used to protect thousands of sites in English and Welsh waters, it is not presently used in this way, in contrast to the situation in Scotland where non-wreck sites have been protected under this legislation. RESCUE is concerned that the present White Paper could lead to a replication of the current situation with the enactment of new laws which will remain unenforced. A firm commitment to the designation of marine sites of all kinds is required before this section of the White Paper will carry any credibility. Thirdly, as in other sections of the White Paper the question of resources and funding are not addressed. While we welcome the commitment represented by the statements in the White Paper, they remain essentially aspirational rather than practical. Given the manifold threats to the historic marine environment, this is a less than adequate response to the situation. Specific points The following sections address points made in specific parts of the White Paper. The majority are specific to the marine environment, but we would draw attention to the point made in relation to paragraph 32 concerning the desirability of bringing the Portable Antiquities Scheme in line with the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 and making the reporting of antiquities a legal requirement. Paragraph 2; The Marine White Paper will set out proposals to put in place a better system for delivering sustainable development of the marine and coastal environment, addressing both the use and protection of marine resources, while deriving sustainable economic and social benefits RESCUE is concerned at the absence of any specific mention of either heritage or archaeology in this section. Sustainable development, while it carries many positive overtones and associations, should be defined more closely in order to allay suspicion that such phraseology may conceal the fact that it can be used to relegate the marine historic environment to a relatively insignificant position in relation to other concerns. As we have pointed out elsewhere, much in the White Paper depends upon a demonstrable commitment to inter-departmental consensus and agreement (joined-up government) and we are concerned that DEFRA and the Ministry of Defence may not be as fully supportive of the concern for the historic environment as might be hoped. We look for much greater clarity and inter-departmental commitment to the principles of the White Paper in this respect. Paragraph 4; We will bring forward legislation to enable the designation of a broader range of marine historic assets, including built structures, archaeological sites, and the sites of wrecked vehicles, vessels or aircraft

While RESCUE welcomes this statement, it does appear to overlook the point (made above) that legislation already exists which could be used to protect sites and monuments within the marine environment but which has rarely been used for this purpose. We have yet to be convinced that new legislation will succeed where the existing legislation has failed, i.e. at the point of enforcement. Paragraph 5; A new definition of marine historic assets It is unclear in this context which body will be responsible for drawing up the new definition referred to. Will this be English Heritage and if so will advice be sought from other organisations concerned with the protection of the marine historic environment? Paragraph 6 We will therefore introduce a new statutory selection criteria of “special archaeological or historic interest” to identify marine historic assets for designation. While this is a statement which can be broadly welcomed, there remains (as with paragraph 5) the question of who will be responsible for deciding upon the criteria to be used to guide designation. RESCUE would urge greater clarity in both paragraphs 5 and 6 in this regard. Paragraph 7 … there will be no age limit for marine historic assets to be considered for designation While this is a welcome commitment in principle it diverges from general international practice, which is to universally designate all sites after a set time period (varying across the globe between 25-150 years). RESCUE suggests that the White Paper offers an excellent opportunity to enforce statutory, universal protection for all sites in UK waters over a specified age. Paragraph 8 Designation decisions will be based on the most appropriate management regime for a marine historic asset, not simply on its ‘special interest’ alone. The form of words employed in paragraph 8 is of considerable interest and some concern. It could be taken to mean that there will be a measure of joined-up thinking applied to marine assets. RESCUE would encourage this and would link it with the need to consider how about how archaeological sites above and below water relate to one-another. This could lead to the formulation of a genuinely innovative and useful strategy involving the marine historic environment which would be a significant step forward. Conversely it could open the way to allowing discretionary actions which could imperil the marine historic environment if notions of ‘strategic value’ (which may be defined in very different ways by individual interest groups) are automatically allowed to supersede considerations of heritage value. Paragraph 9 There will be no grading regime for designated marine historic assets RESCUE understands the issues that lie behind this decision but believes that it highlights the need for investment in basic research and recording within the marine historic environment in order to establish parameters for assessing relative importance. Such investment would allow decisions as to the treatment of specific sites or areas to be arrived at on an informed basis, rather than as reactions to specific threats. This would, we suggest, go some way to moving towards parity in the treatment of terrestrial and marine heritage assets. Paragraph 10; Marine designation will continue on a UK-wide basis. Paragraph 11; In Northern Ireland, designation of historic wrecks will follow UK practice. In addition, some marine historic assets will be protected by scheduling under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995’. RESCUE would suggest that the White Paper offers the opportunity to remove the apparent contradiction between these two statements and to move towards a comprehensive system for the whole of the United Kingdom. Paragraph 12; The designation system will continue to cover the territorial waters of the UK. Beyond this limit, the Government is aware of the challenges facing the protection of underwater

cultural heritage and is keen to ensure that underwater archaeological projects concerning British heritage are carried out according to best practice. RESCUE considers that this statement carries the implication that the UK will sign the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. We look forward to hearing an explicit commitment to this course of action from the Government at the earliest opportunity. Paragraph 13; A more coherent and simpler system for designating marine historic assets that will improve integration between coastal and marine historic environments Paragraph 17 we will bring forward a system of interim protection for marine historic assets when they are being considered for designation While RESCUE is keen to see improvements in the present system along the lines outlined in paragraphs 13 and 17, it is not clear who will be responsible for devising these new schemes (see comments on paragraphs 5 and 6). We would hope and expect that English Heritage, in consultation with other stakeholder groups, would take the lead in this matter and we look forward to clarification of this point. Paragraph 19; In England and Wales, information on designated Marine Historic Assets will be recorded through the new Registers of Historic Sites and Buildings of England and Wales respectively, and made available on-line through the England and Wales Heritage Gateways. In Scotland, this information will be added to the database of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland and made available through the PASTMAP website. In Northern Ireland this information will be made available on the Environment and Heritage Service website. Coastal local authorities will be encouraged to incorporate information on marine historic assets into their Historic Environment Records. RESCUE is pleased to be able to welcome this initiative, but we note that there is an urgent need for a national programme for the recording of the marine historic environment in order to raise the standard of the existing record to that of terrestrial records, as noted above with reference to paragraph 3.9. Paragraph 21 The ACHWS will be tasked with a more strategic advisory role and will also be asked to provide advice, where necessary, to the UK Government on the protection and management of marine historic assets beyond territorial waters, including British wrecks in international waters. RESCUE welcomes this commitment and notes that it ought to prompt the government to take the essential initial step of signing the UNESCO Convention discussed in relation to paragraph 12. We would also urge a much greater degree of inter-Ministry involvement in order to prevent a repeat of the case of the Sussex through which an agency of the Ministry of Defence is profiting financially from the looting of a British wreck by a foreign commercial organisation. Paragraph 24; We will consider the scope for a system of licensing that provides a range of controls for activities in designated areas in order to reflect the management needs of a particular site. This might mean, for example, that a lithic scatter or submerged fishtrap may not always need the same level of protection as a complex wreck site and there would be scope for more activities to be allowed on less vulnerable sites’. RESCUE is concerned that this proposal will lead to decisions regarding historic marine assets which do not take sufficient account of the archaeological or historical significance of a specific asset. A clearer commitment to the marine heritage is expected here and its absence raises some of the same concerns as were outlined in our response to paragraph 2, above Paragraph 25; As an alternative to individual licence applications, we will also introduce provision for more flexible voluntary management agreements for sites. These will allow various stakeholders to take part in voluntary agreements which would aid better and more streamlined management of sites. As with management agreements on land’

RESCUE notes that this proposal owes much to the existing ‘Adopt-a-Wreck’ scheme administered by the Nautical Archaeology Society and the Receiver of Wreck. If this scheme is to be formally recognised and, most importantly, funded, then RESCUE welcomes the commitment enthusiastically. Paragraph 32 In order to ensure that reports of marine historic assets are dealt with as a priority we intend to place a new statutory duty on the Receiver of Wrecks in relation to her duties under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. RESCUE welcomes this commitment, but notes that to make heritage protection seamless across the UK, it will also be necessary to make the reporting of finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) a legal requirement. If this were to be enacted then all materials recovered from land and sea that are subject to the payment of a reward (for whatever reason) would be automatically required to be reported to the appropriate body. This would result in a net inflow of data to the Historic Environment Records to the benefit of the entire country. Such a requirement would dissolve the legislative boundaries between PAS and the reporting of marine finds under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 and would remove one of the major failings of the PAS, its voluntary nature. Part 4 Specific questions posed in the White Paper RESCUE has only a limited number of comments to make on the three specific questions posed in section 4 of the White Paper. Question 1 Should Conservation Area Consent be removed as a specific consent and merged with planning permission Although this may appear to be a sensible clarification or streamlining of consent processes, RESCUE believes that there is a danger that if enacted, it might further reduce the input of qualified and experienced heritage professionals into the planning process, reflecting the ongoing decline in the levels of Conservation Officer staffing within local authorities. If the historic environment is to be recognised as a core asset in terms of contributing to a sense of place, cultural identity and the overall character of places (where the term ‘place’ is used in the sense set out in the English Heritage Conservation Principles document) then local authorities need adequately staffed and resourced Historic Environment Services rather than simply access to a basic Historic Environment Record. Question 2 Should there be new statutory guidance promoting pre-application assessment and discussion for all major planning applications which may affect historic assets RESCUE would support the introduction of statutory guidance in this area as it will effectively extend the advice currently given under the auspices of PPG 16 from archaeology to listed buildings. Our major concern is that consultation at this stage must be sufficiently broad to avoid the impression of a ‘stitch up’ by the time the planning application becomes public. This will require developers to recognise their obligations to the wider community and to cease to use the illdefined but presently powerful defence of ‘commercial confidentiality’ in order to protect their decisions from legitimate scrutiny by the public and by agencies responsible to the public. Question 3 Should the current operation of Certificates of Immunity be expanded to enable an application to be made at any time, and for a site as well as an individual building? In terms of archaeology RESCUE would view this proposal as creating a major loophole in the proposed system of heritage protection. By its very nature, the character and importance of buried archaeology cannot be known in advance of comprehensive evaluation (and even this process is one which has attracted controversy within archaeology because of the questionable sampling and other principles upon which it is based). Any system of immunity which took the nature of archaeological deposits, strata or features as given or which was based on vague or unsubstantiated assumptions about the levels of preservation or significance (local, regional or national) cannot be viewed as acceptable. If it were to lead to a situation in which the owners of a certificate of

immunity could undertake work on a site without adequate archaeological input (as represented, for example, by PPG 16), then this would, de facto, be a return to the situation which existed in the 1950s and 1960s under which untold damage was done to archaeological assets by uncontrolled development. Even granted that such certificates were to be granted for relatively small sites, the effects on archaeological assets and resources could be potentially disastrous. RESCUE cannot, in view of these issues, support this proposal.

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