Heritage sites being left at mercy of planners, archaeologists warn

Budget cuts will leave future generations with a lost legacy of historic heritage as there was no one there to protect it

Archaeologists have warned that budget cuts to the sector will leave future generations facing a lost legacy of historic heritage abandoned “to short-termism” and “financial expediency”.

Rescue: the British Archaeological Trust warned that years of cutbacks mean Britain was “close to reaching a point at which the provision of services designed to safeguard our historic environment is no longer adequate.”

It said there had been a “significant decline” in expert advice on archaeology and conservation of the nation’s heritage.

Specialist advisers act as a safeguard against planning proposals which would otherwise damage local heritage, as they help councils to make informed decisions. Yet local councils across England have lost about one in three archaeological advisers and building conservation experts since 2006, according to the charity.

“There is no sign of this rate of decline ceasing and with further cuts to local authority budgets planned for the financial year 2013-14 it seems that the situation will continue to worsen,” Rescue states in its response to a recently published report by English Heritage, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

The number of archaeological advisers, including historic environment records (HER) officers, has fallen by 28 per cent, and building conservation advisers have been cut by 33 per cent over the past seven years. In the past 12 months alone the number of archaeological specialists has fallen by 3 per cent and the numbers of conservation officers by 4 per cent.

The archaeology charity also claims that forcing “unrealistic spending limits” on local authorities is a “transparent tactic designed to deflect criticism of government policy on to local authorities and thus to shift the blame to local government under the guise of financial expediency.”

Campaigners are calling for “responsibility for the nation’s heritage” to be borne equally by local and national government.

The provision of conservation and archaeological services, to safeguard the historic and built environment, should be made a statutory obligation on all local authorities, Rescue proposes, but says that also means they should be given the resources needed to do this.

It cites several examples within the past year where councils have slashed the provision of advice meant to protect heritage from being harmed by planning decisions.

These include the closure of the Merseyside HER and withdrawal of advice to five local authorities – Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral – in a region that includes the Liverpool waterfront, a Unesco World Heritage site.

Other areas affected by severe cuts include the West Midlands – where Sandwell and Dudley no longer have HERs, Walsall has no archaeological officer and the whole of Birmingham is the responsibility of one person.

Chris Cumberpatch, Rescue’s vice-chairman, said: “At what stage will we decide to act collectively to support under-resourced and vulnerable services and thus ensure that our historic sites and landscapes receive proper protection through the planning process?”

He warned: “Will future generations look back on the early 21st century as the time when we abandoned our past to short-termism and financial expediency?”

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'Bring It On' actress says her legal team will combat the 'vultures'
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
News
Dennis Rodman has confirmed he is not going to the Middle East to 'talk to with the leaders of Isis' as claimed in a recent satirical report
people
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teaching Assistant required in ...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam