Gateway to Rome
Campaigns and reports from the CBA
Last year the CBA received, for its comments, copies of 4,578 applications to alter or demolish listed buildings in England and Wales. We responded to 401 cases and made 236 site visits. We also submitted five written reports to Public Inquiries, of which we won three. One has not yet been decided, and one application was withdrawn.
'Power of Place' review
The report of the review of Government policies relating to the historic environment in England, Power of Place: The Future of the Historic Environment, makes 18 headline recommendations (writes Alex Hunt), several reflecting key points made by the CBA in its submission (for advance commentary, see BA December 2000).
The recommendations of the report are to:
The CBA has welcomed the report as an important starting point from which to build. Its successful implementation will clearly depend, however, on a fresh approach in many areas and on real action and new resources, not just on good intentions.
The Government is currently considering the recommendations of the review and is scheduled to make a full response next month.
Two White Papers were published in November setting out policy for rural and urban areas in England (writes George Lambrick). Despite being the Government's advisor on England's historic environment, English Heritage found itself sidelined in the Rural White Paper. It was not a member of the 'Sounding Board' for the White Paper and is not even included in the list of relevant bodies for advice. Members of EH staff, among others, did manage to get at least some mention of the historic environment into the document, but it is far from being accepted as an all-pervasive issue.
The Urban White Paper is better, but concentrates on regeneration of the built environment. Urban archaeology is entirely overlooked. Complex issues like the need to resolve conflicts between remediation of contaminated brownfield sites and protecting buried archaeology are ignored, despite the CBA's repeated submissions to DETR on the subject. The Government's attitude to VAT on building repairs is still unacceptable.
Archaeology at school
The CBA will be working closely with the Historical Association this year to try to address the imbalance in history teaching for pupils over the age of 14 (writes Don Henson). Current and future GCSE and A level specifications for history are dominated by modern history with little archaeological input. We will be championing more medieval history teaching using a wide range of evidence including archaeology.
The number of students taking history at GCSE or A level has been falling for some years, yet there is a growing interest in TV programmes about the past, especially archaeology The history that is offered at 14+ needs to reflect this interest.
The CBA will be organising another archaeology and education conference this year, 13-16 September in York. Supported by EH and the Learning and Teaching Support Network, it will bring together archaeologists and teachers from all areas of education. The 1999 conference attracted 120 people. Future conferences may be organised every two years.
Licence to dig
Last September the UK became the 25th country to ratify the 1992 Valetta Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage. Most of the convention's requirements (such as measures to integrate conservation of archaeological remains in planning systems) are already in place. However, Article 3 raises important questions about the regulation of excavation in the uk this side of the Irish Sea (see commentary, this issue). The UK's ratification of the convention formally takes effect next month. (GL)
The CBA warmly welcomed a report published in December by the Illicit Trade Advisory Panel - a Government appointed committee - studying measures needed to curb and prohibit illicit trade in antiquities (BA August 2000).
The Panel's 16 recommendations included:
Alan Howarth, the Minister for Arts, has undertaken to work with colleagues across government to take the Panel's recommendations forward. The Panel has been invited to continue its advisory role. (AH)
Heritage in Parliament
A Culture and Recreation Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, tidies up a number of loose ends for the Department of Culture.
Its archaeological provisions include:
Issues not addressed include putting SMRs on a statutory footing and widening the definition of monuments to allow better protection of palaeoenvironmental deposits. (AH)