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TAF response to Cllr Melton clarification

Cllr Melton, the leader of Fenland District Council, has ‘clarified’ his stance on archaeology via a statement on the Council’s web site

Having followed the matter closely over recent days (see various news items on the CBA web site The Archaeology Forum (TAF) have released the following statement

Members of The Archaeology Forum have noted with interest the statement issued by the leader of Fenland District Council clarifying his stance on archaeology.

We would wish to reiterate the point made in our earlier statement of 23 June link to that Cllr Melton’s original proposals would have been very damaging to the internationally significant archaeology of the Fens. We also believe that the proposals would have been illegal, a point accepted by Cllr Melton on Radio 4’s PM programme on 26 June.

We are pleased to hear that Cllr Melton now agrees with the suggestion put to him on Radio 4 about the importance of early discussions between developers, planners and local authority historic environment services, but we would contend that this is already well-established good practice across the UK.

Archaeology is a material consideration in the planning process because it is of significant public interest. Archaeologists continue to work closely with developers across the UK and the discipline is in no way a barrier to economic growth or development. The UK’s heritage is often a catalyst for better social and economic regeneration, and archaeological work undertaken in advance of development should always be proportionate and reasonable. It delivers a clear public benefit as outlined in Government planning policy.

The Archaeology Forum has endeavoured to respond in a professional and responsible manner to the remarks made by Cllr Melton in his speech at the Fenland Building Design Awards which were considered by many to be inflammatory and derogatory to our professional discipline. We are, though, disappointed to hear that Cllr Melton has received some abusive messages in response to his speech.

Dr Mike Heyworth MBE On behalf of the The Archaeology Forum

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
Miller Building, University of Reading
Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AB

0118 378 6446