Save Lancashire's Archaeology from Cuts
Lancashire County Council have announced a proposal to close the Historic Environment Service. This will have a massive and devastating impact on the monitoring and protection of archaeology and heritage in Lancashire.
The Historic Environment Services in councils maintain the important Historic Environment Records and monitor the impact of construction on the archaeology and historic sites that are known such as historic buildings and monuments, but also the undiscovered archaeology that still survives beneath the footpaths and buildings of our modern towns and cities.
What is the Historic Environment Service?
The Historic Environment Record is a database that records all known archaeological and historic sites within a local authority. This is a live record, it is constantly being updated with information as new sites are discovered. The record is a fundamental tool in the protection of archaeology as it is a central repository for all archaeological knowledge in an area. In order to protect and manage this historic environment, we must first understand what sites we have. Without a central record, or with a central record that is not kept updated, we cannot hope to identify new archaeological finds or fully understand our own impact on the history and archaeology of a region. The Historic Environment Records are a fundamental tool in the management of the heritage in the place where we live.
The Historic Environment Service is the last line of defence for archaeology. It is a service of professional archaeologists who are consulted on whether new construction projects or changes to existing historic buildings will have an impact on the historic environment. The service will use their expertise to advise the council how best to manage the impact on the archaeology and historic buildings of the region. The service will also ensure that where there is archaeology likely to be discovered under the ground, such as near a known or suspected archaeological site, that this is investigated and explored before it is destroyed through the process of building. The service will advise the council on the appropriateness of the development and will identify planning applications which will damage or destroy the archaeological remains.
Without the service and without a Historic Environment Record there is no guarantee that the destruction of important archaeology and heritage will be prevented. Once destroyed this precious resource can never be replaced.
How are the council able to close the service? - UPDATE PLEASE HELP
Due to public interest and pressure and the work of professional organisations such as the Council for British Archaeology, Lancashire County Council have released a public consultation on Historic Environment Service. This consultation is unlikely to save the Historic Environment Service as it is only requesting expressions of interest from organisations who will take over the running of the Historic Environment Service at no cost to the council. This is unlikely to yield a realistic or sustainable solution to the loss of the service.
If the public consultation is unsuccessful, the council will then pass the responsibility of the monitoring and protection of archaeology and historic buildings to district council level. This leaves the 14 district councils in a difficult position as they will have a matter of weeks to organise individual services to cope with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework which details the necessity of specialist archaeological consultation. It is likely that a patchwork of archaeological/historic building consideration will occur, with protection in some areas much better than in others. Some areas may have no specialist consideration at all, leaving the historic environment and archaeology vulnerable to damage, destruction or loss. In addition, the cost for 14 individual councils to provide an adequate service is disproportionately larger than Lancashire County Council funding one central service at little cost to the council.
At present, the current Historic Environment Service rely on access to the Historic Environment Record (HER) to make judgments about the impact of development on the archaeology and heritage of the region. The responsibility for the maintenance, access and updating of the Historic Environment Record is not being passed to district council level. This means that the HER will remain with Lancashire County Council with currently no consideration of how district councils, developers and local people may access this information. Without access to an active HER, there can be no accurate monitoring of the impact of development on the archaeology or historic environment.
The Council for British Archaeology are attempting to work with the local district councils to request that Lancashire County Council extends the funding for the Historic Environment Service for 12 months in order to explore alternative options for funding the service.
If you are a Lancashire resident please write to your councillor to request that they support the stance of the Council for British Archaeology and ask that Lancashire County Council extends the funding for the Historic Environment Service for 12 months.
A copy of the letter sent to the Lancashire District Councils from the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), Dig Discover Enjoy and a template you can use to send to your councillor are below.
You can find who is your local councillor and their contact details through this link:
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you live in Lancashire:
Find your local councillor
If you live outside of Lancashire you can write to the Council Leader or Planning Officer (Details of district councils below - search on individual district council webpages for contact details)
Download our template letter and amend the details or write your own words of support.
Send letter to the council.
Keep us updated if you receive a reply - firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter from the Council for British Archaeology
Letter from Dig Discover Enjoy
Downloadable Letter Template
What else can I do to help stop cuts to archaeology?
Sign the Petition
Dig Discover Enjoy have started a petition to ask the council to reconsider the closure of the Historic Environment Service. We are now sending the petition to district councils to make them aware of the strength of support for the protection of arcaheology and historic buildings in Lancashire. Every signature helps.
Please add your name to the Petition here:
Share our petition
Please share our petition with friends, family, colleagues and any interested people. The more support we receive the more likely the council will feel pressured to reconsider their plans for closure. Together we can save archaeological protection in Lancashire.
Volunteer to Help
Dig Discover Enjoy are a small organisation and any time or assistance you can give to help raise awareness of the issue would be most appreciated. Please drop us an email if you are interested email@example.com .
Join the Local Heritage Engagement Network
Many councils are proposing cuts or closure of many professional archaeological services around the country. There are proposals for closure of the service in Yorkshire, Newark and crippling cuts have already happened in Cheshire and Manchester. Support other communities to fight these cuts and protect archaeology by joining the Local Heritage Engagement Network or being an advocate for the historic environment.
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