We feel the recent letter to The Times from RESCUE, The British Archaeological Trust, is worth reproducing in full:
After the report in the Times (Letters, 2nd Jan, p29) is it time to stand back and look at what we may be allowing to be done to this country in the name of development and its presumed role as the only solution to our economic woes? Those aiming to surround Old Oswestry hillfort with a housing development offer the feeble excuse that they are not building on the hill fort itself, while at the same time ignoring the impact on views both to and from the monument (a material consideration for Scheduled Monument Consent). The people of Bath are facing plans to amend green belt land around the city with housing, roads and commercial development which will severely compromise the setting of the best surviving part of the western Wansdyke, another Scheduled Ancient Monument and landscape-scale earthwork.
Against growing threats like these, the number of people employed to examine the impact of development on our heritage is diminishing as local governments across the country cut their conservation, archaeological and museum staff, leaving some regions without cover at all, while those who are left have overwhelming work-loads. At the same time changes to English Heritage appear likely to reduce its influence. As we are only on the edge of economic growth, what other ancient monuments will be threatened as the pace of development picks up? We need to call a halt and reinstate the ground rules for protection of our Historic Monuments (and Green Belt land) before it’s too late and we need to fight for the jobs of those whose task it is to mitigate the negative effects of economic development. Our national heritage is not a luxury; in 2013 alone heritage tourism contributed some £26.4 billion to the British economy. Of what lasting value is recovery if we lose some of our most evocative and irreplaceable heritage in the process?
Dr Chris Cumberpatch
RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust
ADDITIONAL COMMENT FROM DR GEORGE NASH:
Dear Heritage Team,
I would suggest that in addition to the term ‘Green Belt (which actually accounts for little statutory protection these days)’ would also include the term ‘Green Space’. This certainly applies to land that surrounds Old Oswestry Hillfort. Alas, it is not designated ‘Green Belt’ but according to earlier accounts it was considered ‘Brown field’. To me and the majority of people living in North Shropshire, the fields a clearly green.