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Here are the six highly pertinent questions put to Shropshire Council yesterday by the estimable John Waine on behalf of HOOOH followed by extracts (outlined in red) from the answers provided by Councillor M Price, Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning. Please read both the questions and the answers carefully. What do YOU think is going on?

Q and As

UPDATE: Fat lady is still silent, This from John Waine who represented the campaign at the Shropshire Council meeting this morning.

“Sadly and ashamedly Shropshire Council, or more specifically, Malcolm Price, has decided to ignore the decision and views of Oswestry Town Council and English Heritage and include OSW004 in their SAMDev plan. THE FIGHT GOES ON!!!”

Please see this…..

A couple of days ago a Government spokesman (let’s call him Dominic Fibber of Winchester, Balliol, White’s and Wimpey’s) told BBC News:

“Strong protections are in place for the Green Belt, ancient woodland, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and many other countryside and heritage treasures, such as World Heritage Sites. The national planning framework also puts power back into the hands of local people, ensuring they are in charge of deciding the areas they wish to see developed and those to be protected.”

Providing, that is, they fight like tigers, learn the planning system at breakneck speed, and get the support of top-notch experts to counter every spin and falsehood that’s put up. And even that’s not enough in the vast majority of cases, not unless the proposal is such an obvious, blatant, unforgivable assault on communal ownership that even it’s supporters eventually see it as shameful. Unless they are shameless.

Fat lady

Fantastic news, so far. Oswestry Town Council has now published its official statement based on Tuesday’s vote. This forms the basis of a letter they have sent to Shropshire Council ahead of today’s full Shropshire Council meeting  on the draft SAMDev plan. It confirms they now oppose all three housing proposals adjacent to the hill fort.

Site OSW004 – part – Land off Whittington Road
“At our meeting last evening, acknowledging the revised view of English Heritage and also the various professional submissions and viewpoint on this matter, the Town Council now oppose the inclusion of OSW004 and formally request its removal.
General Matter

The Council would ask Shropshire Council for a commitment following SAMDev to look to develop planning guidance for the Hillfort and its surrounds for the future bringing together interested agencies to formulate a strategy and policies looking to the historical and archaeological protection and promotion of the site.”

So now it’s down to Shropshire Council, meeting at 10.00am this morning…..

Many of our readers will be familiar with the long-running struggle against Stancliffe Stone, a quarrying company active in the Peak District, and in particular the area around Stanton Moor, home of many prehistoric monuments, among them the Nine Ladies stone circle.  In 2009 a victory of sorts was felt to be won, and the protestors vacated their camp after ten years occupation. They cleared up immaculately and left the site, close to the Nine Ladies, in its peaceful, natural state. A brief history of the ongoing quarrying of the moor can be found on the Friends of the Peak web site.

But it seems that Stancliffe Stone are ready to try again. The pressure group ‘Stanton Against the Destruction of the Environment’ (SADE) have recently put out a plea  for people to raise objections to a series of planning applications regarding the Dale View quarry, to the north of Stanton Moor.

Satellite image of Stanton Moor, showing location of prehistoric monuments south of Dale View quarry. © Google Earth

Satellite image of Stanton Moor, showing location of prehistoric monuments south of Dale View quarry. © Google Earth

The Dale View Quarry can be seen on the image above, top centre. SADE have issued the following statement aimed initially at people living or working in the area (reproduced here with permission):

Dale View Quarry – Alarming Developments

You may already have noticed due to extra lorries and the huge size of the hole in the ground that Stancliffe Stone Ltd are undertaking an aggressive new attitude to quarrying at Dale View Quarry, Stanton-in-Peak. This is the quarry that was at the centre of so much media attention when the eco-warriors were in the district.

The company has recently lodged four new development applications with the Peak District National Park Authority which – if approved – will have massively detrimental effects on local landscapes and communities.

Please take a few minutes to object to these applications as they will affect us all, with increased traffic, dust, noise and a bigger and bigger void spoiling our wonderful views – the views which draw tourists to our area. Far more people in the Dales rely on tourism for their livelihoods than rely on quarrying!

Please also encourage family and friends to object and forward this email as widely as possible. We’re aiming for hundreds of objections. If you’ve already objected to any applications, thank you, but please be aware two important new ones are listed below.

The four applications to object to are:

1. New Application NP/DDD/0214/0131

Proposal: Construction of saw shed for two stone cutting wire saws, crane and water recycling system. Please object if you don’t want the sound of stone-saws reverberating round the district.

2. New Application NP/DDD/1013/0973

Proposal: That the company be allowed to not comply with 17 of its commitments to restore the land back to its original form before taking out more stone. If you think the quarry’s an eyesore, you’re right – the company’s failed to meet any of its restoration and re-landscaping commitments and now wants that failure made legal.

3. NP/DDD/0606/0613 

Proposal: A single wire saw and compound. The company has already begun work on this installation without planning permission but has been stopped – temporarily at least – by a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ with the Peak Park. Note this is in addition to the first application above – are we to have three stone saws? Or is the company going for a belt-and-braces approach – if they don’t get two saws, they might get one?

4. NP/DDD/0913/0818

Proposal: Relocation of the ugly black shed you can see from the quarry entrance. This is a retrospective application – the company moved the shed without permission from its previous site, where it didn’t have planning permission either.

How to object

Please object as soon as possible. The company planned to start stone-sawing after Christmas and is impatient at the delay caused by SADE getting involved. All these applications are likely to be put before the Planning Committee in March or April.

The easiest way to object is to visit the Peak District Planning Search page and click on the links against the individual applications. Scroll down the official-looking page where you’ll find a box inviting your comments. If there is more than one objector in your household, please make separate objections – numbers count. Don’t forget to include full contact details or your objection may be discounted.

If you’d prefer to write a letter, please include the relevant application numbers from the list above. Send your objection to:

The Minerals Planners,
Peak District National Park Authority,
Aldern House,
Baslow Road,
Bakewell DE45 1AE

It is our view at the Heritage Journal that the most invidious of these is application 2 in the list above, as this makes a mockery of any and all promises made in the past to ‘make good’ any damage to the environment. What good are agreements if they can be revoked at a later date? If you live, visit or work in the area please consider raising an objection to all these proposals.

It’s a bit like the farmer with the fox, the hen and the bag of grain. Which are safe together? Conservation is sometimes about choices ….. rabbits do massive damage to bronze age barrows and Iron Age  hill forts, trees have often meant they have survived, but often the reverse…

Recently though, English Heritage has had to make an unusual choice: the removal of a beautiful stand of trees to protect a rabbit warren. The beech trees, on Cothelstone Hill in the Quantocks are to be felled over a four-year period due to concerns their roots could start to damage an underground  medieval rabbit warren. A spokesman for English Heritage said they were working with the Quantock Hills AONB Service to manage the land, adding: “We agreed that the needs of this scheduled monument, which is at high risk, take precedence over the beautiful but relatively young trees.”

A local walker disagrees, saying he is “gobsmacked” and that it would leave the skyline bare for the next 20 years. He said: “I understand we need to preserve archaeological heritage but we should be thinking about protecting the areas millions of people recognise.”  EH and the AONB Service feel differently and say they intend to replace the trees. To add a final complication EH mention that “Unfortunately damage is already being caused due to erosion of the surface layers of the scheduled monument due to the herd of Exmoor ponies, which use the location for shelter.”

So should the ponies be shot?! ** Or the beautiful trees be cut down? Or the present-day rabbits be culled? Or should the fort and the warren be left to further deteriorate?

.

** No.

Whatever the claims to the contrary, all the reasons why two areas of potential residential development have been dropped also apply to the third – as has been eloquently shown by the campaigners’ and their refreshingly adequately qualified experts. So let’s hope that logic prevails and it too can become history. It may be a desperate fight though ….

.
good cheer

POLE

The admirable student-run archaeology journal The Post Hole has a poll this month. It asks a good question, how can relations between archaeologists and detectorists be improved, but it offers some strange options:

___________________________________________________________________

1. Better education about detecting for those who want to get involved?
Well! We’ve been paying PAS millions to do that for 16years!  Should we ask for our money back?! Maybe, as most detectorists still don’t report all finds. Interesting that 23% of respondents answered YES to that option.

2. Make it easier for the public to report finds?
Eh?! How could it possibly be easier? PAS has a national team you can take finds to. They’ll even come to you or your detecting club or rally and give you a free ID to boot. What other hobby is so mollycoddled by the state?

3. Acknowledgement of the good that can come from metal detecting?
But everyone acknowledges that already! It’s the downside that matters. How can yet more praise and talk of heroes make non-reporters start reporting? (A wild thought – did a detectorist advise on the contents of this survey?!)

4. Find common ground, i.e. projects that all parties can work together on?
To clarify:  random, selective, unstructured searching for personal benefit is antipathetic to archaeological ethics so the ONLY “common ground” possible is in projects under strict archaeological control as defined by EH in Our Portable Past. That may shock endless bangers-on about common ground (detectorists and PAS) but it’s true!

5. Stronger regulation of metal detecting
Yep, that’s the one certain way – for how could relations NOT be improved if all detectorists were compelled to behave instead of being given a choice about it, as now. (BTW I see only 13% of respondents went for that option – could that be a clue to which group is piling in to answer this survey?!)

___________________________________________________________________

If the York Uni students don’t know how archaeologist-detectorist relations can be improved (which I doubt) they could pop over to CBA HQ where they’ll be told this  (in no uncertain terms). It adds up to:  “Metal detecting is fine providing it’s conducted in  the public interest”. To which I’d add: “since after 16 years of persuasion it mostly isn’t,  it’s high time regulation was used to ensure it is!” The effect on relations will be that every archaeologist will then adore every metal detectorist (as will I) and it don’t need no poll to see that’s true!

Update 24 Feb 2014
A metal detectorist asks
“Is it not time that he came to the conclusion that his work too force his own thought out regulations upon metal detectorists is not working and could actually be having a negative effect on what he aims for?”
The claim that we (and Paul Barford) are the cause of detectorist misbehaviour is more than a decade old and turns out to be decidedly irrational when examined  – so doesn’t need discussing.  As for forcing my own opinions, the above-quoted summary of the CBA’s opinion – Metal detecting is fine providing it’s conducted in  the public interest” is one that is shared by just about every archaeologist on the planet so he’d better take it up with them.

(Yah boo to PAS for not explaining it to him!)

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More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting

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Heritage Action and the Heritage Journal, as previously documented, had their beginnings on a web site forum “The Modern Antiquarian“, after the book of the same name written by Julian Cope. Mr Cope is possibly better known for his prime activity as a musician, and yet I don’t recall having had many musically themed entries here on the Journal.

A search on the major music sites for names of ancient monuments brings up a plethora of results, depending upon the monument selected. We decided to start with an obvious one – ‘Stonehenge’. This alone returns over 600 songs on AllMusic.com, with many more on Spotify and YouTube – although the YouTube results are somewhat skewed by videos of festivals, documentaries and travelogues, and duplicate entries. But here are five versions that may, or may not be familiar.

Ylvis – (What’s the Meaning of) Stonehenge (3:55)

This tribute  by the Norwegian comedy duo, brothers Bård and Vegard Ylvisåker, from a few years ago created a minor stir amongst the antiquarian community at the time of it’s release in 2011. The absurdity of the lyrics, and the fact that the video is played ‘straight’ make it a classic of its type. Like Marmite, you’ll either love it, or hate it.

Hawkwind – Stonehenge Decoded (8:20)

Hawkwind and their various offshoots have released more songs than you can shake a stick at, all with the name ‘Stonehenge’ in the title somewhere. This version of ‘Stonehenge decoded’ was recorded live at the 1984 free festival at the stones, and released on the subsequent ‘This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic‘ album released the same year. We cannot condone the desecration of the stones depicted in this video. Possibly best appreciated whilst ‘under the influence’.

Black Sabbath – Stonehenge (1:58)

You’d hope that a track called ‘Stonehenge’, from the band whose Stonehenge stage set, when it was discovered to be too large to fit inside most venues wound up serving as inspiration for the ultimate rock & roll spoof movie (This Is Spinal Tap) would be memorable. However, this track, taken from the “Born Again” album released in 1983, is nothing more than an experimental sound-bite instrumental filler. Disappointing.

Spinal Tap – Stonehenge (5:01)

Another ‘spoof’ band, Spinal Tap have had considerable success, both in the album charts and on live tours on the back of the original ‘rockumentary’, “This is Spinal Tap” (1984). The band members are portrayed by Michael McKean (as David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (as Nigel Tufnel) and Harry Shearer (as Derek Smalls), along with various temporary drummers who all meet with unfortunate ends. One of many high points in the film.

The Disrupters – Stonehenge (3:42)

The Disrupters were a British anarchist punk band who formed in late 1980. Originally influenced by the early punk bands of the late 70s (The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash etc.) the band were eventually drawn to the anarchist scene. The track, ‘Stonehenge’ was included on the album “Gas the Punx“, a ‘Best Of’ collection of studio recordings from 1981-1986, released in 2005. Energetic, if a bit repetitive.

Stay tuned for more, pop-pickers! (I’m showing my age now…)

This press report is worrying: “Flooding crisis to see A303 upgrade fast-tracked“.

Why? Because in September it emerged that English Heritage was “still pushing for the A303 to go into a tunnel eventually” and we commented “bravo if EH are quietly pushing for a Stonehenge tunnel – but only if it’s a long, deep-bored one that all the main archaeological and conservation organisations support”. Then in December their Chief Executive Simon Thurley confirmed they will continue to argue for the tunnel “with all our strength” but again it wasn’t made clear which tunnel he meant. Then last month we asked “Surely, if EH are arguing for a tunnel with all their strength on behalf of the public they owe the public an explanation of which tunnel they’re arguing for?”

But there has still been no clarification and now it seems the A303 improvements may be fast tracked. It would be awful if the first time it became clear which tunnel EH had been pushing for was on the day they hailed the announcement of a fait accompli – a fast-tracked A303 improvement programme incorporating a Stonehenge short tunnel.  At that point – with the whole of the West of England cheering and the scheme budget irrevocably fixed – all the bodies that have previously argued against a short tunnel on archaeological grounds might find themselves pretty much ignored. Maybe they should ask EH to clarify their intentions now, before the die is cast?

It has been a difficult decision as the standard of entries has been very high but in the end we felt Picnic Silbury by Mark Camp deserved the prize.

Disney silbury

Rumours that one of the reasons it was chosen was that it reminded us of one of our earliest Megameet picnics are perfectly accurate.

(Mark is a  Tour Guide & Author at www.walkaboutwest.co.uk).

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