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Future UK approach to WHS

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Author Assif
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#31 | Posted: 8 Jul 2010 12:36 
How come Oxford isn't competing?

Author meltwaterfalls
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#32 | Posted: 13 Jul 2010 04:43 
There are some really mediocre sites on that list. I can't imagine too many of them making the list.

Shame that Portsmouth didn't make it through, I thought it was a decent propossal and offered more than Catham, which will probably just be seen as a duplicate of some of the already inscribed dockyards. And I think it would have more to offer in terms of marine heritage than Dover, oh well.

Author Solivagant
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#33 | Posted: 19 Jul 2010 05:32 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I have made a formal request to the Department of Culture etc for release of the written statements made by the 38 applicants. These consist of the answers to 22 largely factual and anodyne questions ( http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/consultations/WHN_application_form_guidance_note.pdf ) but apparently cannot be released "automatically"!!.

There are 2 UK regulations regarding release of information
a. The Freedom of Information act (FoI)
b. The Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)

Somewhat surprisingly it has been decided that matters relating to WHS come under the latter
("We now consider any information regarding heritage sites, listing of buildings etc. to be covered under EIR instead of FoI, further explanation can be found under the heading 'What is Environmental Information?' within http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/policy/opengov/eir/pdf/publicity/leaflet-publicauth orities.pdf ")

Being a suspicious type I wondered if these latter regulations were more restrictive regarding release but have been told "I can confirm that the use of EIR does not mean that we can withhold more information than under FoI. As explained in the DEFRA leaflet the exceptions under EIR are generally narrower and this means that information is more prone to be released."

The potential reasons why this information might not be released are
"Regarding the future publication of the application forms we consider that some elements may be subject to exceptions 12 (5) (e) - Confidentiality of commercial or industrial information and 12(5) (f) – Interests of the person who provided the information, of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). Both exceptions require a public interest test to be carried out into whether the balance of interest lies in withholding or releasing the information."

It will be interesting to see what decision is made -I am supposed to receive a response one way or the other within 20 days!

On June 14 I made a request for the list of applications to be released and this was done -though I am not claiming that this was due to my request!! However they took the opportunity that my request then made didn't specifically request the documents themselves, to "opt out" of doing so on the basis that a lot of different bodies would have to be canvassed to see if they wanted to claim exemptions under 12 (5) e and f above. This seems somewhat specious - what confidential/commercial information can be contained in such an application?

I look forward to discovering
a. Which bodies have submitted the applications - they don't have to be public and could be groups of private individuals
b. What sort of case they made out regarding OUV
c. What sort of costs they envisaged to be involved in fully working up a Nomination and achieving an inscription.

My "Public Interest" arguments were as follows
"a. Whilst I am sure that those persons appointed to review the applications will be experts in their subjects there may well be claims which have been made in the completed application forms which others with specific knowledge of the sites and their backgrounds would have debate with or could even add to.
b. Given the likely future costs of progressing an application I believe it to be important that the claims made by any public bodies involved in making an application should come under the earliest possible public scrutiny
c. Any private groups making applications should be "open" to scrutiny given possible conflicts of interest between their desire to have a site appear on the list and the interests of others with alternative views. I would point out that just getting a site on the Tentative List, even if this is never progressed through to a formal inscription nomination, can have significant impacts (both positive and negative according to one's viewpoint) on tourism volumes, property values, planning restrictions etc etc. I find it amazing that some unknown "interest group" can apparently make an anonymous application.
d. In these days of open government the presumption on matters such as this should normally be in favour of publication to ensure the fullest public support for such decisions as may be made.
"

Author Solivagant
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#34 | Posted: 24 Jul 2010 04:06 
Some of the 38 suggested sites are "falling by the wayside" already!!
a. GWR
"THE bid to get World Heritage status for the Great Western Railway has suffered a huge blow after its major financial backer pulled out.
Bath Heritage Watchdog, the voluntary conservation group which initiated the bid, revealed yesterday that they had lost the backing of a crucial organisation, which they cannot name for contractural reasons."

Interesting that a "bid" can depend on an anonymous commercial organisation. It shows just how much the possibility of profit now influences which sites get identified/nominated -and not just in UK I suspect. No doubt the Department of Culture will be using aspects like this to avoid publishing the documents for the bids as I have requested!! I will at least try to get the documents published with any confidential parts "redacted"
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/8290225.Town_urged_to_get_behind_heritage_bid /

b. Forth Road Bridge
"The owners of the Forth Bridge have decided not to back plans to make it a World Heritage site. Network Rail says the move would impose "additional burdens" on its ability to operate the 120-year-old bridge."
http://news.scotsman.com/news/Forth-Bridge-crosses-itself-out.6431117.jp

Author Solivagant
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#35 | Posted: 6 Aug 2010 01:21 | Edited by: Solivagant 
So we now know of at least one potential T List site in UK which decided not to put itself forward for consideration because of cost. Newmarket for its Horse Racing/Bloodstock heritage - in some respects quite an interesting idea which hasn't been covered elsewhere on either the inscribed or T Lists as far as I know.
http://www.newmarketjournal.co.uk/news/Heritage-bid-hit-by-cost.6458751.jp

Author meltwaterfalls
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#36 | Posted: 9 Aug 2010 11:09 
A bit more of an investigation on the new UK tentative sites:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-10912858

Author Solivagant
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#37 | Posted: 9 Aug 2010 17:16 
And a bit more about Network Rail's opposition to the Forth Road Bridge T list nomination - but note the throw-away comment at the end that the UK intends making 6 "nominations" in 2012. On the recording of the program itself the BBC got it wrong by saying that UNESCO will make its decision in 2012. The text here must refer to UK intending producing a T List of 6. Somehow the Dept of Culture must have let slip its intention to have this number. So that is 6 out of 38 (less the 2 which have already fallen by the wayside). It would seem about the right size if the list isn't going to last "for ever"!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-10698498

Author Solivagant
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#38 | Posted: 13 Aug 2010 09:05 | Edited by: Solivagant 
My request under the Freedom of Information Act/Environmental Information Regulations for publication of the Application Forms for those sites applying to be put on the UK's revised T List has been accepted!

As I receive them Els will add them to this Web page.
http://www.worldheritagesite.org/countries/uktsites.php

The 3 received to date are for
Upper Heyford Cold War Air Base
Merton Priory
Birth of the Railway Age

so still 35 to go!!

Author meltwaterfalls
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#39 | Posted: 13 Aug 2010 09:59 
Superb work, I look forward to looking through them all.

Thanks for posting them up as well

Author Euloroo
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#40 | Posted: 13 Aug 2010 21:34 
Thanks Solivagent. The Birth of the Railway Age looks like a very strong contender and the submission has been well put together. Much as I'm a huge enthusiast of Brunel, I think these railway sites make a much stronger case for international significance and value.

Merton Priory is always going to be judged on the poor integrity of remains.

Author Assif
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#41 | Posted: 23 Aug 2010 10:51 
I still canīt understand why neither Cambridge nor Oxford are candidating. Both enjoy worldwide recognition and would enter the list with ease I think.
Cambridge is included in the old UK T list. Does anyone know if it is to be pursued the same way like Chatam or the unfortunate Darwin?

Author Solivagant
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#42 | Posted: 23 Aug 2010 17:09 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Depends on what is meant by the "old" UK T list. Cambridge ("Colleges and Backs" - ie the landscapes along the river at the backs of the colleges) had been added to the list in 1989 (T List procedures were less well established in those days) but got deferred in its 1989 attempt to get inscription for not covering a big enough area. It never seems to have tried again and didn't get itself on the current (and about to become defunct ) list drawn up in 1998/9.

Oxford did seem to consider getting itself on that T List - see this dated Feb 1998
http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/sport/omboysleague/archive/2009_2010/1998/02/06/Oxfordshi re+Archive/6641091.Oxford_could_be_World_Heritage_Site/
But it didn't appear - so must be presumed to have thought better of it!

There is no evidence that either city considered applying to get on the T List currently being developed.

Note the comment in the above 1998 article "The city council plans to join forces with Oxford University to apply for the honour, reserved for areas deemed to have outstanding global value." And there I suspect lies the reason for nothing happening -neither then nor now.

In both cities it would primarily be the University colleges which would form the vast majority of any inscribed area so any nomination would require the very active support of the University/college authorities. Both cities are already heavily "over-touristed" but, no doubt the city councils would like to grab any opportunity which nomination and inscription might bring to pack a good many more tourists in for the benefit of hotels and businesses. But where would the benefit be for the Universities? A "bed of nails" more likely! I suppose it might help them attract a few more Chinese students but a better showing on Academic Papers and more money from the government would be more beneficial to their worldwide University rankings!

A lot of effort, time and yet more restrictions for very little benefit. The sort of rational decision one would hope to see from such seats of learning! Why join the hordes on a rapidly devaluing concept. Do the authorities really need the support of the Convention to preserve their OUV and there are already too many tourists trying to walk around those quadrangles!

Yet there are UNESCO schemes which do fit in with their ethos -Oxford has just decided to try to become World Book Capital in 2014
http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/4678060.City_bids_to_be_World_Book_Capital_2014/
Town and Gown seem to be in agreement that this would be a "good thing". The article also contains some interesting background about the "costs" of going for these sort of titles and the opportunities for tensions between the Council and the University.

Author Solivagant
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#43 | Posted: 13 Oct 2010 13:25 | Edited by: Solivagant 
So, according to this, UK intends (possibly) coming back in with the Darwin site in the next 5 -10 years! To what extent it really believes this is another matter or whether it is just trying to let the supporters down gently. Even if it is a convenient fiction it will have to play along and put the site back on the new T list if it doesn't want to give the game away that the site's hopes are dead, dead, dead. Quite why there seems such a determination to pursue the inscription isn't clear to me. One almost wonders whether there are messianic Darwinists behind it determined to overcome the anti-Darwinists of this world!

http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/8450187.DOWNE__Darwin_s_home_World_Heritage_Site_de cision_could_take_10_years/

Author meltwaterfalls
Registered
#44 | Posted: 14 Oct 2010 04:33 
Must admit it looks like the end of the road for Downe. It is a nice place, but I could never really get a fully tangible link with the inspiration it had on the theories of Darwin. It just felt a like the house in which Darwin lived, rather than a defining influence on evolutionary theory.

Trying to look objectivly at the UK, I struggle to see what else can be added to the list. Whilst there are a fair few places that are of equal stature to current WHS (York, Sailsbury Cathedral...) I just don't see there being that many places that would really add anything to a list that is already pretty cluttered with European sites of varying levels of quality.

Perhaps the cooling down of intent in getting sites inscribed is what is needed from many European countries (and a fair few others ahem... Mexico). But I guess next year we have plenty of new and interesting sites from Western Europe to look forward to (lets guess at a regionaly significant palace, a cathedral on a minor pilgrimage route, a set of mines and some caves... can't wait!)

Author winterkjm
Registered
#45 | Posted: 14 Jan 2011 14:47 
Update on York nomination process. York's bid as a UNESCO sites was debated in Parliament this last Thursday. Looks like it has a strong chance of being on the new UK Tentative list.

http://www.mediatrust.org/newswirefeed/2011/01/10/parliament-to-debate-york-s-world-h eritage-bid/

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