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Approval of the Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

On 20 January Scottish Ministers approved the Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, which seeks to amend provisions in the existing Listed Building and Conservation Areas (Scotland) Act 1997, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953.

New provisions in the Bill include

  • Introduction of statutory inventories for gardens, designed landscapes and battlefields
  • Introduction of a new power to enable Scottish Ministers to issue a building with a certificate of immunity from listing for five years
  • Extension of Scottish Ministers’ grant making powers, with MSPs able to specify in a grant award letter the amount of grant that would be recoverable in certain circumstances
  • Better alignment of the listing and scheduling systems, enabling Scottish Ministers to issue a scheduled monument enforcement notice

Scotland’s Historic Environment, Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop told MSPs that the Bill addresses “specific gaps and weaknesses in the current heritage legislation framework”, and that the new legislation would “enhance the ability of Scottish ministers and planning authorities to manage sustainably Scotland’s rich historic environment”.

IfA has been an active participant in the Bill consultation process, contributing largely through the Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) but also providing written evidence prepared by the Scottish Group of IfA, which has over 300 professional archaeologists in its membership.

Peter Hinton, IfA Chief Executive commented: “The IfA welcomes the passage of the Bill as a positive step forward in strengthening the ability to effectively and sustainably manage Scotland’s historic environment. However, although it addresses some loopholes in protection it is regrettable that more fundamental reforms were not included, for example the introduction of a statutory responsibility on local authorities to have access to expert historic environment advice. It can only be hoped that the Scottish Government will take note of those MSPs in the debate who reflected the views of the sector by calling for wider-reaching reform”.

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