Some responses to the UK Government's consultation exercise regarding the UK's future approach to the World Heritage Scheme have appeared on the Web (submissions closed on Feb 25). I have seen an indication that around 120 responses were received expressing "Varying opinions"!! That, I guess is the nature of "Consultation" it gives an impression of democracy but the views obtained are potentially so widespread that they allow government to carry on with what they wanted to do anyway! Nevertheless some trends are distinguishable within the answers, together with a number of noteworthy comments. The issues (and responses) often have an applicability outside UK so non-UK based Forum members might still find them of interest! Q1 Which option should be adopted in relation to the future nomination of sites for World Heritage Status?
1. No change continue to nominate annually from existing T List
2. Moratorium on nominations
3a. Revised T List and voluntary slowing of nominations
3b. Revised T List but continued annual nominations
1.The general feeling favours 3a (The Government's favoured option so it looks pretty certain that UK will be reducing its rate of future nominations) but those organizations representing some "active" sites on the current T List (Lake District/Chatham) want to make sure they are left on! The UK UNESCO commission envisages a UK nomination only every "3 to 4 years"
2. A 2 stage approach to weed out weak sites early (presumably before being placed on the T List) was favoured
3. At least 2 responses (1 from Scotland!!) felt that England gets too many nominations particularly as the government was even suggesting a panel chaired by "English" Heritage to help decide on nominations!! UNESCO foresaw an English nomination only every 10 years (given the respective populations, and even land area, of the UK's national entities I don't think the idea that England is over-represented actually stands up to scrutiny at most a bit over on comparison of land area but well under on population!)
4. Regarding "alternative designations" - there was no support for a National list but a bit more so for a European one although several responses were specifically against
5. Mixed views about the Price Waterhouse approach to analyzing the cost/benefits of inscription. Some concern was expressed about the possible over-emphasis on cost/benefit was it not more important to consider the cultural/natural values?
6. Some special pleading for natural and geological sites as opposed to yet more cultural ones of which UK has rather a lot.
7. An interesting comment (surprisingly from the Council of British Archaeology!) in favour of sites which reflect 20th century popular culture roll on Blackpool ( I have found "Web evidence" that Blackpool intended making a submission but, as yet, haven't found it)
8. The Lake District response includes the detailed and chequered history of its, as yet unconsummated, nomination always involved in posing questions about OUV and helping to expand the boundary for other sites to get inscribed but in grave danger of missing out yet again!Q2 What further measures should be considered to improve the management and promotion of our World Heritage Sites?
The answers here were naturally less focussed on single yes/no answers
1. lots of concern about the poor UK legislative framework for protecting WHS and for handling planning issues (reference the extent to which UK city sites seem to be under criticism from UNESCO). Generally "agreed" by the responding organisations that more is needed but this is a political "hot potato" both in itself and because heritage protection is a devolved matter within the developing UK Constitution- so Scotland can be doing 1 thing whilst England is doing another!
2. need to tie in with the Cultural Olympiad which runs along side the ("Real") Olympiad in 2012
3. possibility of covering education about UK's "World Heritage" better within the UK National Curriculum (as if it isn't full enough already"!)
4. More full time coordinators/managers, support by and a "fund" from central government! Par for the course and not much chance during a recession?
5. An interesting comment that the management model of Hadrians Wall Ltd should be followed - see on this forum http://www.worldheritagesite.org/forums/index.php?action=vthread&forum=8&topic=252
6. develop the UK's "World Heritage Web Portal" http://www.culture.gov.uk/ukwhportal/index.htm
7. concern that the consultation wasn't adequately addressing how best to maximize the UK's international responsibilities on global issues and cooperation as per the Convention (an unfair comment looking at the Terms of Reference but less so perhaps in relation to most of the responses which were certainly more parochial)
For reference by those who are interested, these are links to the detailed responses I was able to find as of May 24 2009
a. Institute of Historic Building Conservation http://www.ihbc.org.uk/consultations/docs/PDF/WorldHeritage_response_final2.pdf
b. Chatham World Heritage Partnership http://www.chathamworldheritage.org.uk/partnership_response_final.pdf
c. The Archaeology Forum http://www.britarch.ac.uk/archforum/TAF_WorldHeritageSites_230209.pdf
d. Falkirk council (see app 1) http://www.falkirk.gov.uk/coins/ViewSelectedDocument.asp?DocumentID=2784
e. UK National commission for UNESCO http://www.unesco.org.uk/heritage_review.htm
f. Scottish Civic Trust http://www.scottishcivictrust.org.uk/sct/Documents/Publications/World%20Heritage%20fo r%20the%20Nation%20(170209).pdf
g. Natural England http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/0809117WorldHeritage_tcm6-10484.pdf
h. The Lake District National Parks Authority http://www.lake-district.gov.uk/lake_district_docs95/2009_02_25_whs_consultation_resp onse.pdf
i. The Council for British Archaeology http://www.britarch.ac.uk/sites/www.britarch.ac.uk/files/node-files/CBA_WHS_DCMS_2402 09.pdf
j. The Geological Society http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/views/consultations/page5328.html
k. The Royal Town Planning Institute http://www.rtpi.org.uk/download/5636/World-Heritage-RTPI-Response.pdf
l. Bath preservation Trust www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk/index.php?s=file_download&id=102