New research reveals the significant contribution of Local Authority Archaeology in Development

  • Report commissioned by The Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO:UK) Chaired by City of Edinburgh Council Archaeologist John Lawson.

New research into the benefits of archaeology work undertaken under the control of Local Authorities across Britain has been published ( by the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO) today (6th September 2019)

Archaeological work was fully incorporated into the planning system across the UK in the early 1990s to manage the impacts that development may have upon the historic environment. The report presents the results of research conducted by Landward Research Ltd for ALGAO:UK, on the archaeology sector in developmental management and its contributions in England, Scotland and Wales.

The report looks at; the positive impact the existing system makes on the sector and beyond, how successful the existing system is and whether it is delivering the process it was created for.

It’s the first detailed piece of research into the topic by ALGAO and it highlights the savings produced by the current system as well it’s the contribution to the economy:

  • Commercial Archaeology makes a £218m direct contribution to the economy
  • For every £1 spent on Local Authority Planning Archaeology £15 is returned.
  • 5000 (74%) archaeologists are employed because of the developmental management system
  • Work of members provides up to an estimated £1.3bn in savings to construction industry through reduced delay costs in 2017-18 alone
  • Current provision of Local Authority based archaeological services worth up to £245m in savings to public purse in 2017-18

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John Lawson, Chair of ALGAO said:

‘’Today’s report by Landward Research has highlighted the essential role currently played by Local Authority Archaeologists in providing expert in-house advise to our member authorities. We enable the conservation of our historic environment at a local level whilst supporting successful development, employment and tourism. Local Authorities are at the heart of promoting the wider public benefits of our rich historic environment, for the benefit of all.

“This report demonstrates the value of incorporating archaeological services at into the planning system, and the positive impact this approach can have in terms of the economy and understanding of our historic environment.”

Kenneth Aitchison, Chief Executive Officer of FAME, the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers, said: “This report is really important. It shows the value of ALGAO expertise and emphasises the critical need for this in the planning system. It is ALGAO members’ expertise in local authority planning archaeology that enables FAME members to deliver high-quality archaeological investigations that provide real benefits to society. Without ALGAO, FAME wouldn’t be able to do the work we do”.

Doug Rocks-Macqueen, from Landward Research said: “We have always guessed that development control archaeology contributes greatly to communities but quantifying the results has been surprising. The impact it has on England, Scotland and Wales is far greater than what we had imagined”.

The Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO) was established in 2006 and provides a UK-wide forum on archaeology matters for Association members and their staff, focusing the aims and voice of Local Authorities and National Parks in developing best practice and policy across the sector and beyond, and in promoting these services within UK, national, and local government. The interests of the Association embrace every aspect of the historic environment, both terrestrial and maritime, including archaeology, the built environment and historic landscapes.