Heritage Bill Dropped Again!

There is deep disappointment again that the Heritage Protection Bill for England and Wales does not appear in the Draft Legislative Programme for 2009/10 announced by the Government this week.

The Programme indicates the legislation likely to be included in the Queen’s Speech for the next parliamentary session. Clearly there is now little expectation of the legislative reforms which the 2007 White Paper promised would place the historic environment at the heart of the planning system. The Bill aimed to simplify and strengthen existing legislation and introduce opportunities for people to be more involved in protecting and enhancing their local heritage. It also paved the way for the signing and ratification of the Hague Convention, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Without the Bill, the UK will soon be the only international power not to have signed the convention.

Mike Heyworth, CBA’s Director said:

The lack of Government commitment to these uncontroversial and widely supported reforms is deplorable. The Council for British Archaeology will be responding to the publication of the Draft Legislative Programme in the strongest terms. We will be working with the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group to progress the most badly needed reforms, some of which are possible through secondary legislation, and to press Government to deliver on other objectives for the heritage. Our historic environment fundamentally shapes the quality of our surroundings and is integral to policies for sustainability. It must be at the heart of new policies for the way places are designed and planned, not side-lined as a low priority.