HL Deb 29 January 1990 vol 515 cc152-3WA
Lord Kimball

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to update and expand their schedule of ancient monuments.

Lord Hesketh

Before my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment includes a monument in the schedule he maintains under Section 1 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 he consults with English Heritage. English Heritage's major programme of re-survey work, known as the Monuments Protection Programme is now under way. It is expected to run for some 10 years or so and could lead to an increase in the number of scheduled monuments in England from 13,000 to approximately 60,000. The object of the programme is to identify further or redefine monuments of national importance which should be protected by statutory controls; and to collect up-to-date information to assist in their future use and management.

My right honourable friend is now considering the first batch of 200 monuments recommended for scheduling by English Heritage. These cover monuments in the Salisbury Plain training area. To qualify for scheduling, monuments must be of national importance. Each case is considered on its merits. Because the characteristics which make a monument of national importance and worthy of scheduling are not always readily visible, its identification, and the subsequent decision whether or not to include it in the schedule, are matters for informed judgment in the light of professional advice given by English Heritage. The criteria on which the judgment is formed were first announced on 22nd November 1983 and I restate them below:

  1. (i) Period: all types of monuments that characterise a category or period should be considered for preservation.
  2. (ii) Rarity: there are some monument categories which in certain periods are so scarce that all surviving examples which still retain some archaeological potential, should be preserved. In general, however, a selection must be made which portrays the typical and commonplace as well as the rare. This process should take account of all aspects of the distribution of a particular class of monument, both in a national and a regional context.
  3. (iii) Documentation: the significance of a monument may be enhanced by the existence of records of previous investigation or, in the case of more recent monuments, by the supporting evidence of contemporary written records.
  4. (iv) Group value: the value of a single monument (such as a field system) may be greatly enhanced by its association with related contemporary monuments (such as a settlement and cemetery) or with monuments of different periods. In some cases, it is preferable to protect the complete group of monuments, including associated and adjacent land, rather than to protect isolated monuments within the group.
  5. (v) Survival/condition: the survival of a monument's archaeological potential both above and below ground is a particularly important consideration and should be reassessed in relation to its present condition and surviving features.
  6. (vi) Fragility/vulnerability: highly important archaeological evidence from some field monuments can be destroyed by a single ploughing or unsympathetic treatment; vulnerable monuments of this nature would particularly benefit from the statutory protection which scheduling confers. There are also standing structures of particular form or complexity whose value can again be severely reduced by neglect or careless treatment and which are similarly well suited to protection by scheduled monument legislation, even if these structures are already listed historic buildings.
  7. (vii) Diversity: some monuments may be selected for scheduling because they possess a combination of high quality features, others because of a single important attribute.
  8. (viii) Potential: on occasion, the nature of the evidence cannot be specified precisely, but it may still be possible to document reasons anticipating its existence and importance and so to demonstrate the justification for scheduling. This is usually confined to sites rather than upstanding monuments.