by Sandy Gerrard

Much has been made over the years about the discretionary powers linked to scheduling, but looking ahead several major threats to our archaeological heritage have recently appeared on the horizon.  These are linked to the need to escape this recession and our ever increasing desires for more and more “green” energy. The threat to our nationally important archaeology is greater than it has been for decades. Does EH think that the scheduling of a handful of sites each year is going to safeguard this finite resource for future generations? Protecting archaeology involves several stages. The first is identifying the site, recording and interpreting it. Until this happens the site is essentially unprotected unless it happens by default to lie in an area where there are already sympathetic management controls. Once recognised, its importance needs to be assessed which hopefully allows informed decisions to be taken about its future including possible legal protection. In England assessment of potentially nationally important archaeology inevitably involves the EH Designation Department and to be effective this needs to be carried out before planning permission is granted. Does the Designation Department have the capability to efficiently and effectively assess the thousands of undesignated monuments that are likely to be impacted upon in the next few years? Are steps being taken to engage with the increasing threat to ensure that the very best of our archaeology is safeguarded?

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