HC Deb 08 July 1974 vol 876 cc374-5W
Mr. Newens

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list the steps which have been undertaken by his Department over the last two years to prevent the destruction of archaeological evidence of past ages by development and redevelopment schemes;

(2) if he will investigate the possibilities of taking further steps to discourage the destruction of archaeological evidence, where development and redevelopment schemes are undertaken, before adequate opportunities have been provided to record this;

(3) if he will issue a circular encouraging local authorities to give support to archaeological rescue teams or similar groups of archaeologists to assist in the recording of archaeological evidence on sites threatened by development or redevelopment schemes.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

My right hon. Friend has continuously in mind the preservation and protection of archaeological remains in considering development and redevelopment schemes. The attention of planning authorities was drawn to this matter in a circular in June last year.

Where, unavoidably, sites of archaeological importance will be affected by redevelopment, financial grants are made to archaeological bodies to assist in carrying out excavations and preparing reports. The total amount which it is planned to make available during the present financial year is £1,063,000, which is more than double the provision made two years ago. Financial and other assistance is frequently given also by local authorities.

My right hon. Friend recently announced his intention to appoint Area Archaeological Advisory Committees, to advise the Department on policies and priorities for archaeological surveys and excavations, on applications for grants and on needs for back-up facilities to ensure early completion and publication of reports. The committees will be established as soon as possible.

The Department is continuing discussions with archaeological interests and the local authority associations on further measures which may be desirable in this field. Legislation is also being considered.