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Given the recent balmy (if somewhat damp) conditions the opportunities for visiting our favourite sites in the snow have been somewhat limited. A covering of snow can sometimes enhance a visit and allow different aspects of a site to be appreciated. The amount of snow and the character of the site can result in spectacular scenes and can result in a memorable day out. Remember though don’t take any risks and be doubly careful as conditions underfoot can be treacherous and always check the weather forecast as it is very unwise to get stuck outdoors .

Hingston Hill stone alignment on Dartmoor. The snow provides an amazing contrast and makes this special place magical. A real treat.

Hingston Hill stone alignment on Dartmoor. The snow provides an amazing contrast and makes this special place magical. A real treat.

 

A guest post by Tish Farrell

Last week news of housing development threats to Old Oswestry Hill Fort in Shropshire made the national press:. There are plans afoot to allocate land for the building of three housing developments on sites below the south east slopes of the hill fort (OSWOO2, 003 and 004 on the map below). These sites currently lie outside Oswestry town’s development boundary. So why is this happening?

Os28

First it is important to know that planning law in England favours developers. Further, the current official ethos is that housing development equals growth. For the past two years Conservative-run Shropshire Council has been engaged in allocating new land for development around all its towns and market communities (Site Allocation and Management of Development or SAMDev). Each community has a Place Plan that includes these allocations. The plans are supposed to reflect the community’s expressed aspirations. More likely, most people in the county were either unaware, or completely disinterested in the fact that they had the chance to participate. What we end up, then, is the result of the inclinations of a minority who do participate.

The SAMDev process involves landowners and developers proposing development sites outside communities’ existing development boundaries i.e. those agreed by previous district councils which no longer exist. No development can take place outside a development boundary unless the boundary is changed through a public consultation process, or a case can be made for an exception site for affordable housing.

As Iron Age sites go, Old Oswestry stands among the nation’s most important and best preserved monuments. It is especially unusual in that it does not dominate a remote hilltop as do Shropshire’s other large hill forts such Bury Ditches and the Wrekin, but lies on rising ground just to the north east of Oswestry town. It is presently in the care of English Heritage. In July 2013 the first draft of the SAMDev allocations was open for public consultation. Shropshire Council reported that “Respondents were split 51% in support and 49% in objection to the proposed new boundary. The main reason for objecting to the boundary related to the inclusion of sites OSW002, 003 and 004;

 Since then, objectors have been making their feelings known. There is a Change.org petition, a Facebook campaign, and welcome coverage from the Guardian and other media. But will it make any difference?

 (to be continued)

Tish Farrell is a writerlapsed prehistorian, and haphazard tweeter who lives in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. 

People and organisations who oppose wind farms are sometimes portrayed as being anti-planet and unable to appreciate how vital it is to move towards green energy. However, there are surely cases where the damage is simply too great and should be opposed? There have been some recent instances which show English Heritage and The National Trust are working on that basis.

Remember Lyveden New Bield, where an Inspector ruled that damage to a scheduled monument’s setting caused by four 126 metre high turbines would be “less than substantial”?

Liv

EH, NT and East Northants Council have successfully appealed the decision. “The effect of the proposed turbines on one of the most important, beautiful and unspoilt Elizabethan landscapes in England would be appalling. This is why we pressed this case” said Simon Thurley. “We very much hope that this will be the end of the matter.” Indeed – and for several reasons, including the fact that the Inspector had said the damage to the asset was reduced by the temporary nature of the planning permission (25 years) and its reversibility. “Don’t worry it’s only for 25 years” is neither convincing nor consoling. There are numerous important landscapes and settings of all periods that don’t deserve wrecking on the basis it would only be for 25 years.

But apart from that does the reversal of this decision bring any further advantages? In particular, does it put a mark in the sand whereby other heritage assets of this calibre will be safe? Sadly no. It seems that precedents don’t play a part in many decisions despite English Heritage’s attempt to provide a rational basis for assessing the balance between energy needs and heritage conservation and their development of a database of previous decisions. Thus Mr Smith, deputy chief executive RenewableUK, which represents the wind farm industry, said: ‘It would be wrong to suggest that any kind of precedent has been set on this occasion, as each wind farm application is considered on a case-by-case basis”.

He seems to be saying the significance of heritage assets is open to a fresh battle every time. If true it’s a shame. It’s hard to see how it can be right for decisions to be independent of guidance through precedents or reference to any sort of “heritage significance scale”. Inspectors aren’t Gods with impeccable, consistent judgement on every “one-off” occasion, nor should the fate of high value heritage assets be dependant upon how well a particular barrister performs rather than how valuable the asset is. Put baldly, Mr Smith seems to be reassuring his wind farm entrepreneur colleagues that it’s always worth a try lads,  as sometimes you’ll get lucky!” We can only hope Inspectors will still take a sneaky peak at EH’s guidance and database of previous decisions so that consistency prevails.

[If any of the above is wrong we’d be pleased to hear from anyone qualified to explain things].

“Landscape archaeology can be carried out in any part of Britain, so long as you acquire the right frame of mind to do it. If you accept that a landscape can be ‘read’, rather like a page of music, then you can learn to read it. Your view will change; instead of seeing scenery, you will find yourself looking at landscape; instead of seeing just hedges and fields and woods, your eyes will begin to elucidate patterns. This applies in towns and cities just as much as countryside.

“What is actually happening, as you learn various techniques, is that your perception of the three dimensional adjusts to a fourth dimension: you begin to see time, or if not time itself then the consequences of time. Scenery – countryside and townscape – made of shapes, smells, sounds and colours becomes a landscape which has evolved over the centuries and is still evolving, a product of the synergy of humanity and the natural.”

From Reading the Land  by Peter Fowler. British Archaeology, December 2001.

Two years ago a question arose as to the reburial of ancient remains, specifically the small skeleton of ‘Charlie’ exhibited in a glass case in the Alexander Keiller Museum in Avebury. A petition was launched by CoBDO (Council of British Druid Orders) to have the bones reburied and a response by the government to a similar reburial of bones at Stonehenge can be seen below. 

There is no clear agreement in the Pagan community as to whether prehistoric bones should be reburied with a ceremony, but the question of reburial of human bones  excavated by archaeologists sparked a much wider controversy about respect for the ancient dead. 

HAD (Honouring the Ancient Dead) set down their thoughts on the subject, and came to the conclusion that though there was no overall mandate for the reburial of ‘Charlie’ the DCMS guidance on the subject of reburial was only really applicable to indigenous remains from abroad that should be returned to their rightful culture. A summary of their conclusions and recommendations is quoted below…

1) HAD fully supports the appropriateness of CoBDO making its Request for reburial of these ancient human remains on religious and spiritual grounds, fully acknowledging CoBDO’s position as a valid Pagan perspective based upon genuine, experiential, spiritual connection and the profound duty of care which such a deep connection evokes.

2) HAD fully supports CoBDO making this Request, because the DCMS Guidance and heritage organisations should take into account spiritual (and not only scientific) interests in their decision-making. From that point of view, the DCMS Guidance should include practical guidelines and criteria for how this could be achieved. 

 3) However, because CoBDO is not fully representative of the Druid or Pagan community, and indeed has no valid right to claim authority over these remains, HAD cannot support its call for reburial. Further, HAD’s more broadly reaching representation of Paganism informs that there is not a unanimous call for reburial of iconic remains such as Charlie.

4) HAD queries the language of the DCMS Guidance, proposing that the language of ‘claims’ is inappropriate and has put CoBDO in a no-win situation. If a British organisation such as CoBDO had been given the option to use the language of ‘expressions of interest’, the relevance and value of their input would have been immediately heard, supported, understood and of value. It is essential that an inclusive language be offered that is more appropriate for the British situation.

5) Emphatically then, HAD asserts that use of the current DCMS Guidance is inapplicable for human remains of British provenance.

An earlier article by Heritage Action on the CoBDO petition

The government’s response to a similar Stonehenge petition

by Gordon Kingston, Heritage Action

A 1400 year old, early Christian, brooch has been discovered in the ashes of a turf-fired Stanley range. The Irish Examiner, of February 4th 2010, carried a front-page report on what was found by a Kerry woman while cleaning out the grate;

“’What in the name of God is this?’ she asked me. I said it looked like half a donkey’s mouth-bit as they were always drawing turf out with donkeys. It was blackened from the fire, but as we looked at it closer and cleaned it up I had a good idea it was a brooch, because it was similar to the ones I had seen in books.” The article quotes Pat Joe Edgeworth, husband of Shiela, of Ballylongford.

Archaeologists are delighted because provenence could be established by tracing that particular load of turf to a portion of bog owned by Pat Joe. The brooch had survived, intact, after being dug up as part of a sod, by machine and then burnt in the fire.

The report concludes; ”The brooch is the latest in a number of early finds – including a hoard of Viking silver – which have been identified and acquired in accordance with the National Monuments Act by the Kerry Museum in Tralee. The brooch is currently undergoing conservation and is due to go on permanent exhibition in the next couple of months. Curator Helen O’Carroll said the museum was very grateful to Mr and Mrs Edgeworth.”

The National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994

The same day as this report, on the find by the Edgeworths, there was a news item on the fall of a meteorite somewhere in the north of the country and a friend of mine expressed surprise that so many people should be up there looking for the rock. She had automatically assumed that, if found, it would be handed straight on to some scientists – rather than selling for several hundred euro an ounce, as the case will probably be.

This story provides a useful parallel, because it does feel a bit like that, approaching a sense of incredulity, I suppose, if we happen to look over, like my friend to the space-rock hunters, from our Irish way of dealing with archaeological objects, to the situation in England. Where, at times, it seems as if the whole affair is managed according to the attitude and ethics of a street market.

The Examiner article, for example, doesn’t state whether the Kerry couple got any reward, beyond the gratitude of their local museum, or, indeed,  the excitement and fame that followed their discovery. Under Irish law, that will be entirely at the discretion of the Director of the National Museum of Ireland. The whole treatment of the find is straightforward, with no haggling or fighting, no overblown praise, awards or talk of heroism, because the brooch already belongs to the nation and everybody is aware of that.

The relevant legislation for questions of ownership, declaration and reward for archaeological objects found in Ireland is the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994 and, as a contrast to the situation in England, I think that it’s well worth summarising some of its key provisions here: 

1. Under Section 2, any archaeological object found in Ireland is the property of the state; “…there shall stand vested in the State the ownership of any archaeological object found in the State after the coming into operation of this section where such object has no known owner at the time when it was found.”

2. Under Section 4, trade in such objects is illegal unless the state has waived the relevant rights; ”No person shall purchase or otherwise acquire, sell or otherwise dispose of an archaeological object which has been found in the State after the coming into operation of this section unless the object is one in which the rights of the State have been waived under this Act”

3. Under Section 5, possession of such objects is forbidden unless they have been reported; “No person shall have in his possession or under his control an archaeological object which has been found in the State after the coming into operation of the Principal Act unless it has been reported under section 23 (as amended by the Act of 1987) of the Principal Act.”

4. Under Section 9, if judged to be of “sufficient archaeological or historical interest”, such reported objects may be taken into the state’s own possession and retained; “where it is reported to the Director or a designated person that any archaeological object has been found in the State after the coming into operation of this section that has no known owner, the Director shall, as soon as practicable, take possession of such object and may retain it on behalf of the State.”

5. Under Section 10, if such objects are retained by the state, payment may be made to the finder, the landowner and the land occupier, but only if the Director; “is satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so.”

I look over at England and, perhaps I’m wrong, but all I can think of are the words of Sonic Youth, from ‘The Sprawl’;

“Come on down to the store,
You can buy some more, and more, and more, and more.”

By Gordon Kingston, Heritage Action

There was a wonderful summation of Ireland’s passed boom years, by David McWilliams, in the Irish Independent recently and I think that it’s worth quoting it here, in full, to show one local economist’s view of what went on behind the more obvious, on-stage action;

Do you remember only a few years ago all the blather about how our young people and our superior demographics would ensure that Ireland achieved a soft landing? Do you remember government ministers urging people giddily to get “on the ladder”? Holding the ladder was usually a builder or auctioneer, who was making a fortune, and some bank manager who threw borrowed money at these first time buyers like confetti.

The bank manager’s Christmas bonus was based on how much money he stuffed into the pockets of the first-time buyer which went straight to the builder, who in many cases wrote cheques for cabinet ministers in corporate donations to a party the builders knew would support them all the way.

And who paid? Well, the young of course. They paid by buying over-expensive shoeboxes and they are paying even more via unemployment. This unemployment ensures that the demand for the extra thousands of shoeboxes that were built in the boom will not be there. Therefore, the negative equity many are suffering will simply get worse as house prices continue to plummet in 2010.”

I covered some of the same ground in an article last August, with, perhaps, a little less of McWilliams’ light style;

“Everybody must be aware, at this stage, of the calamitous crash of Ireland’s economy. While the whole world has wobbled, but stayed erect, this once golden state has fallen heavily and into a hole of its own excavation.

The much-praised ‘tiger’ economy and government funding-model would now seem to have been based, for the last number of years and largely, on constructing and swapping houses, for progressively greater amounts of cheap, borrowed money. New roads and motorways helped to bring new areas into the city hinterlands, areas that then ‘needed’ more houses, which then, obviously, needed more roads. People became, notionally, very wealthy, but only as long as a platform of confidence remained. Once interest rates rose and house prices dropped, this began to be pulled away.”

I’m quoting these two passages, really, to give some example of the force that exists behind the visible action in the country and its economy, or rather, if I can use the image of a Venetian masquerade, the distinction between face and mask; between what we are told by the media, in all forms, and what is. How it potentially influences our attitudes, opinions and behaviour. The bold letters, in each case, are to draw attention to the most relevant sentences in this respect.

Of course, our immediate concerns, Heritage and the buried past of these islands, are tightly woven into the fabric of the economy. Particularly so in Ireland, where construction on previously ‘green’ land and conflict with heritage interests, were such a prominent feature of our ‘boom’. In the most recent issue of the Heritage Council magazine (Winter 2009/Spring 2010), Dr. Simon Burke discusses the results of his analysis of heritage content in Irish newspapers and, although the article itself, beautifully written, should be read in its entirety, I will set out five of his more notable findings here:

1. The initial terms used, by the newspapers, of ‘builder’ or ’speculator’ changed over time to the more impressive ‘developer’, then ’property developer’. Indeed, you can note the continued reference to it, in this late, recessionary ebb, as the construction ’industry’.

2. Real heritage objects were frequently represented as ‘threatening’ merely notional development proposals.

3. Development proposals were, conversely, always treated as real objects, that is; ‘the new road/ housing estate/ port’, as opposed to ‘the proposed’.

4. Only 348 distinct claims were made about heritage in the 1190 heritage texts and 952 separate subjects analysed, and the 23 most frequently made claims – the majority favourable to development – were made an average of 26 times each. He suggests that such repetition served to; “naturalise them and make them appear reasonable.”

5. Most heritage texts related to ‘events’ managed by sources representing business or the State. He states that; “73% cited a single source and 93% cited sources representing a single perspective.”

According to recent figures from the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis (Irish Independent 27 Jan 2010), there are now more than 300,000 houses vacant, around Ireland and over 600 “empty and abandoned developments”. These are all developments that would probably have been described, just a few short years ago, as ‘absolutely crucial’ to their area and, naturally, you can only speculate what their cost was, if counted in the devalued currency of local environment and heritage.

Perhaps, at this point, therefore, it might be useful to look at an example of the type of text that can be picked up by the media from developers‘ sources and, because the impending conflict over Bremore is often on my mind, I’ve taken one from the website of Drogheda Port. Remember that container traffic in Ireland is in decline at present and any future pressure on port capacity is both hypothetical and in the medium to long-term. I’ve left a couple of clues, to help in your dissection, again in bold type:

“At an estimated cost of €210 million, the development of Bremore Ireland Port was begun in 2002 by Drogheda Port Company as a strategic response to the impending future deficit in port capacity not only at Drogheda Port but on the east coast of Ireland as a whole. In addition to existing facilities at Drogheda and Dublin, Bremore will offer additional choice to Irelands importers and exporters.

The new deepwater port will have 24 hour marine access with facilities to accommodate new short sea shipping services to the United Kingdom, Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic states, to include Lo-Lo, Ro-Ro and passenger traffics. Bremore will have the deepest berths on the east coast of Ireland.”

How can you tell what is face and what is mask?

Or, if your tendency is, like many of us, not to believe anything you read and to always look for something behind the screen, is there not a danger, occasionally, of ignoring the truth? Sometimes, inevitably, that screen is not a screen, but a face. What then? ‘Wolf?

“Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul.
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?”

From W.B. Yeats; ‘Among School Children’


I feel that I’ve ended by tying myself, not unusually, in a bit of a knot. My fellow HA member, moss, has consented to overlook this tangle and state clearly what we have to focus on;

A final word; We at Heritage Action record and write about heritage protection, but in Ireland we see that the protection of sites is seemingly non-existent. The point of conserving past history is that once a site becomes lost, it is lost for ever – our grandchildren will not inherit their past. Motorway archaeology, records and then destroys. What happens then if we jeopardise whole landscapes to further the temporary upsurge of an economic boom? We have only to look at the Hill of Tara to answer that question, it will be forever despoiled by the motorway that will run through the valley below, there is no going back on this, the noise, the visual intrusion is a permanent feature– Not until the petrol runs dry will we ever be able to get back the peace and quiet.
The proposed Port of Bremore, will follow in exactly the same manner, destruction of the natural ecology, destruction of prehistoric mounds and a quiet place to escape – a whole beautiful landscape must again go under the wheels of the bulldozers

An Taisce’s submission:

http://www.antaisce.ie/builtenvironment/CurrentAppeals/BremorePort/tabid/632/language/en-US/Default.aspx

By Gordon Kingston, Heritage Action

It was an obvious choice for the Winter Solstice sunset; ‘Hot Scoria’ by John Cale and Angus MacLise. Nine minutes and twenty one seconds, guitar and cimbalon, would be about the time I’d take to drive out there and what sound, outside Coltrane, could be more suitable in preparation? More expressive of primal, Dionysian abandonment and yet, a grip on the reins to guide it. Scoria is, depending on definition, either a type of rock formed from gas-rich lava, or the slag of smelting metal or ore. The scorching movement of bright, hot mass, its path burnt down into the horizon, or, in David Fricke‘s liner notes, a “joyful fury“, a “climbing music“, an ‘Ascension‘. Music that somehow directs the uncontrollable and exults, defiantly, amidst the anger. An avatar, thus, ‘Hot Scoria’, when the beats in the solar pulse skip and slow, for the last hot drops of the dying year, and wild music, in turn, to ride their blinding trail into the other-world.

How important, you must wonder, would such sounds have been, not just as a rich and personally satisfying representation, but as part of the ancient ritual, of matters of life, death and the afterlife? One’s thoughts turn, inevitably, to Wagner’s concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, the total work of art, the binding of dawn – the rise of the sun in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘ – to Strauss’ ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra‘. As Bryan Magee (1968, 75) points out;

“…because the arts are of widely differing expressive potential – with one of them, music, able to penetrate to the innermost core of things in a way none of the others can – even an ideally realized synthesis would feature some arts more prominently than others, and music would play the star role, would be the most important component of the total expressive medium.”

Our impressions, then, are the shy children of visible context, clung tightly to the shapes that it takes, our aesthetic acceptance, or dismissal, to expectations of what those shapes must be. We should occasionally consider, perhaps, the respective significance of message and monument, within ritual. The circles, tombs and rows, that we gaze at now, may have been an integral part of the stage, part of the cast, even, but no more than that; sight without sound. Beautiful, precious, sometimes sublime, yet only a fragment of the scene. 

Magee, B. 1968 Aspects of Wagner. Oxford ISBN 0192840126

And listen to this, if you get the chance; ‘Hot Scoria’ (1965) on John Cale – Dream Interpretation: Inside the Dream Syndicate Volume II

Silbury in Wintertime. Image credit Bozzer

William Morris once wrote of a visit he took to Avebury one summer afternoon. He was a schoolboy at Marlborough College, and would cycle out on his afternoons off to visit the stones and have a drink at the Red Lion Inn. In a letter written to his sister he describes wading through the water meadows around Silbury before he climbed to the top, and finding a snail shell which he kept. The water meadows have long gone, though maybe they will be returned soon to the fields round this great mound leaving the grass full of the flowers of summer.

Water is such an important part of our lives, it has a somewhat mystical aura as to its magical properties as well in history, its glassy surface reflecting back a mirror image, and there is evidence to suggest that the ditch round Silbury when filled with water could have been a part of the ritual ceremony bronze age people would have taken part in, progressing across a causeway to the sacred mound. The Winterbourne running beneath Waden Hill which turns with such abruptness at the Swallowhead Spring to become the Kennet River reminds us that springs have also been sacred as well. The Roman settlement discovered so recently in the water meadows, may also have come into being because Silbury had carried its sacred powers through time from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, several Roman wells have also been discovered round the base of Silbury.

Suddenly we are leaving the archaeological world behind and stepping into the natural world, where water flows, plants grow and people move about in the landscape busy at their chores. The first phase of Silbury brings us a sharp reminder of what plants existed at the time, the soil and turves heaped on the first mound have preserved the minute details of leaves, seeds and insects, here we find all the plants of a mixed ecology.

So what has this to do with saving heritage?  History is most often the recorder of destruction, archaeology even more so, yet when there is something tangible to explore and preserve people take a lot of time and trouble to do just that. Silbury after the calamitous hole that appeared at the top of the mound has now been restored, it is once more whole in its outside appearance, the inner voids and tunnel also being filled. The scars have slowly healed and we can be grateful for that.  

Yet we still often see the various monuments round the Avebury landscape as single units, isolated in their layers of history, we forget that Silbury once towered above a busy Roman settlement, the soldiers clattering past on the road that went to Aqua Sulis, or stopping for a rest, or maybe standing quietly beside the spring to contemplate the world of the gods. There is evidence of Saxon and Viking also on the mound, a fortified settlement, or perhaps a ‘Christian footprint’ of disapproval on this pagan relic – who knows… then there are the fairs and festivals of the medieval period when people celebrated the special festive days of the year; bull baiting is recorded in the 18th century, when between 4000 and 5000 people sat at the foot of Silbury and on a facing eminence… where there was also wrestling, bowling and dancing (The Gloucester Journal – 9th November 1736), and bonfires were lit and the poor bulls having met their demise were roasted and imbibed with ale on the following two days!

So let’s celebrate our heritage, that rich tapestry of history from the past, welcome in the New Year with a promise that we will protect this serendipitous cauldron of myth, history and archaeology; welcome the new pagans who once more come to dance at the stones of Avebury; the archaeologists who write, and then write once more, their varied interpretations of prehistory; even the crop circle makers who cleverly decorate the fields of wheat on the Marlborough downs, though I doubt the farmers are in the same mind; and finally in a wider sweep let’s celebrate the people who through extraordinary devotion and energy seek out all those prehistoric stones in the British Isles and abroad to add to our knowledge in the form of a gazetteer on The Modern Antiquarian, The Megalithic Portal and other sites – there is in the end more gain than loss…

Feature by Moss, Heritage Action member.

English Heritage committee members recently opined that “public benefit”, “economic benefit” and “other benefits” should be combined into a single term in the government’s new planning guidelines!

Members felt that the phrase ‘public benefits’ should be used with caution, due to the difficulty in defining how public benefit is judged. It was suggested that one single term could possibly be used to cover ‘public benefit’, ‘economic benefit’ and other benefits, although recognising the difficulty in settling upon an agreed term”
(From Section 6.4.b of the minutes of the English Heritage Advisory Committee, September 2009, discussing the government’s draft New Planning Policy Statement on Planning for the Historic Environment.

Sad and telling that our statutory heritage champion is anxious that a single phrase is used for “public benefit”, “economic benefit” and “other benefit”. One could ask “who is likely to gain massively from such a deliberate lack of clarity? The public or people that are out to make money?” An answer was supplied at Thornborough. And the Rotherwas Ribbon. And Bond’s Garage, Avebury (and on almost a weekly basis with insolent openness in Ireland). In each case there was enormous “benefit” (as the unified phrase might indicate) yet in each case it was private monetary benefit at the expense of public heritage benefit.

So, should there be a single phrase to describe such happenings? “Benefit gained”?  Hardly! Not outside the pages of 1984. Bad idea, not distinguishing economic benefit from cultural benefit as clearly as possible on every occasion that arises (or claiming it’s too difficult to even try!)

Here is the Thornborough complex, unique in the world. The majority of it’s surroundings have now been destroyed. For gravel. So should what happened there be thought of as a murky mix of “public benefit’, ‘economic benefit’ and other benefits”? We think not! Heritage assets were destroyed so there is no public cultural benefit. There is gravel in loads of places in Britain so there is no public economic benefit. So the only benefit that accrued were the “other benefits” – in other words, the financial benefit to Tarmac PLC. Truths such as that ought to be kept crystal clear ought they not since it was THAT benefit, and that benefit alone, that the planning system combined with the protection system delivered there after much deliberation and virtuous talk!

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