Engines of Change
Lord of the Hrungs
Editor Simon Denison
Campaigns and reports from the CBA
CBA's role in protecting listed buildings at risk
The status of the CBA as a statutory consultee on listed building applications is under serious threat. The threat extends to all the 'national amenity societies', including the Ancient Monuments Society and the Georgian Group (writes Alex Hunt).
Under current arrangements, local planning authorities in England and Wales are required to notify the amenity societies of applications involving the demolition of all or part of a listed building. This gives us an opportunity to comment, provide expert advice and make recommendations - and where necessary, register objections. But this service may be downgraded (or even go) as part of a Government package of 'streamlining' measures to speed up planning decisions.
The CBA and other societies have been lobbying strongly against the proposals, pointing out that quality, not speed of decision making, is essential for the historic environment, and that the present system actually adds value without creating delays. We have argued that:
The CBA believes that the present arrangements for statutory consultation should be retained, with societies working harder at monitoring trends and communicating their advice effectively. The present cost-effective funding arrangements should remain broadly the same, but be reinforced to improve coverage and speed of response. We also believe provision of historic environment services by local government should become statutory, supported by adequate resourcing.
Archaeology and farming
Following the publication in January of the Curry Report into the future of farming, the pace of agri-environment reform is hotting up (writes George Lambrick). The CBA has submitted comments on DEFRA's draft response to the report, and on the Government's proposed reforms of agri-environment schemes. We have stressed both strengths and weaknesses of the current regime of agricultural support, and urged the need for progress in five areas:
The CBA has been working on comparable issues for other parts of the UK outside England. We have also been collaborating with the RSPB and other partners in Wildlife and Countryside Link to ensure that the historic environment is flagged by other environmental bodies, just as we stress the need to integrate archaeology with soil conservation and biodiversity.
Following the CBA's successful day meeting in February to discuss the roads proposals for Stonehenge (BA, April), we will be holding another meeting to discuss the English Heritage/National Trust proposals for visitor access and interpretation for the Stones and the World Heritage Site generally. The meeting has been provisionally set for Tuesday 9th July at the British Academy in London. As previously, interested organisations will be invited to send representatives, and a number of free tickets are available on a first-come-first served basis by contacting Carole Barrowclough at the CBA (phone 01904 671417; email CaroleBarrowclough@britarch.ac.uk; or by post, CBA, Bowes Morrell House, 111 Walmgate, York YO1 9WA). (GL)
Alongside the welcome extension of Lottery funding to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (see News in Brief), the Government also continues to make headway on portable antiquities issues - notably by keeping to its own timetable for ratification of the unesco 1970 Convention. Speaking at the CBA-convened Standing Conference on Portable Antiquities in March, arts minister Baroness Blackstone promised that Britain would accede to the Convention by the end of July. In April, the Government published the Convention as a parliamentary command paper, representing the final stage in getting parliamentary approval for ratification.
The minister also reconfirmed her intention to make it a criminal offence to 'import, deal in or be in possession of any cultural object, knowing or believing that the object was stolen, or illegally excavated, or removed from any monument or wreck contrary to local law'. However, no parliamentary time is available to achieve this for the foreseeable future. (AH)
In April the Government launched the Sustainability Fund, which arises out of the imposition of a new tonnage tax on aggregates known as the Aggregates Levy (BA, June 2000). The aim is to help tackle environmental problems in areas affected by extraction, and the CBA has lobbied for historic environment issues to be addressed. We were therefore very pleased to learn that the fund in England - which amounts to £16m in 2002/03 and £13.5m in 2003/04 - will be distributed, in equal shares, through existing grant schemes run by English Heritage, English Nature and the Countryside Agency (see Grants and Awards in Briefing for further information).
In Wales, the fund amounts to £3.4m for two years, in Scotland about £6m for two years, and in Northern Ireland about £2m for two years. (AH)
The Young Archaeologists' Club (YAC) continues to thrive with new branches being set up at the Museum of London's new Archaeological Archive and Research Centre last month, and at Spelthorne Museum in Staines in October (writes Alison Bodley). The CBA has received many enquiries about setting up branches all around the country, and it is not surprising that YAC has earned the reputation of being one of the fastest growing youth organisations in the UK. Such is the demand that this year a record four YAC holidays are being run, two based on experimental archaeology in Cornwall, one that includes a four-day excavation course at Sedgeford in Norfolk and one in Scotland which also includes two days of excavation.
The club continues to promote excellence in archaeology through the Young Archaeologist of the Year Award, which this year asks children to plan a feast fit for a King or Queen. Museums and sites are invited to become involved by answering enquiries from children entering the award, and by informing YAC members about existing displays.
CBA web:Jan/Feb 2005