It’s all smiles at the Ministry this morning as World Heritage UK President, Chris Blandford, and Chair, Tony Crouch, meet with Michael Ellis, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
All good on the day World Heritage UK publicly announces that it will undertake the first review of all 31 of the UK’s World Heritage Sites.
This will be the first time that a comprehensive picture of how the UK’s World Heritage Sites are protected and managed has ever been undertaken. The review is being led by WHUK’s President, a leading international heritage expert. The review will focus on key management problems and issues at the sites, which range from Stonehenge and the Giants Causeway, to Edinburgh New Town and Liverpool’s city centre. It will investigate new options for sustainable management of sites, for public and private sector partnerships, and for improving benefits for local economies, stakeholders and investors.
The process has already started, with in-depth interviews with site managers and stakeholders across the country. Visits have been made to 19 of the 27 ‘onshore’ sites so far, with the other remaining sites scheduled over the next few months.
Sponsorship for the review has been secured from: Historic England; CADW, Wales; Historic Environment Scotland; Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, and others.
It is anticipated that the final report will be completed in late autumn 2018, for sharing with the sites, government and other partners.
Chris Blandford, World Heritage UK President, said: ‘Collectively Britain’s World Heritage sites are the crown jewels of our national heritage and we need to look after them much better than we currently do. Before we can start to advise government, UNESCO and others on future management we need to find out exactly where the problems are and what the solutions might be. This is what the review aims to do’
Tony Crouch, World Heritage UK Chairman, said: ’We are delighted that Chris is bringing his immense practical knowledge and skill to this task, which we see as central to our job in advising and encouraging government and site managers to take our World Heritage responsibilities seriously. We know that some sites are very well managed, but others are more problematic and may lack all the resources needed for quality management’
Professor Ian Wray, World Heritage UK Vice Chairman, said: ‘The UK’s World Heritage sites are central to Britain’s island story and, since Britain had such an important role in international events, to world history and heritage. They are the sleeping giants of our national heritage and of our national ‘soft power’ and cultural tourism’.