The first Wales-only legislation to improve the protection and management of Wales’ unique historic environment has been passed by the National Assembly for Wales.
When it becomes law, the Welsh Labour Government’s Historic Environment (Wales) Bill will introduce new measures to protect Wales’ historic environment. It will make it more difficult for individuals who damage protected monuments to escape prosecution by pleading ignorance of a monument’s status or location.
The Bill will also:
· Introduce new powers to take urgent action to stop unauthorised work to historic sites and to prevent historic buildings from falling into disrepair. For example, it will allow the development of a system of preservation notices and will give local authorities new ways to recover their costs when they have to take direct action.
· Put historic environment records on a statutory footing - making Wales will the first country in the UK to do so. These records allow advice on decisions by planning authorities and land managers to be based on sound information. This stands in sharp contrast to the crisis confronting archaeological services across England under as local authorities are forced to make wide-ranging cuts as a result of the Tory UK Government’s cuts to their budgets.
· The records will also provide access to the new list of historic place names in Wales – another first for Wales.
· Simplify some of the systems in place for the management of scheduled monuments and listed buildings by allowing owners to enter into voluntary heritage partnership agreements with consenting authorities.
· Create an independent panel to provide Welsh Ministers with expert advice on policy and strategy.
· Introduce formal consultation with owners of buildings or monuments before a decision to protect them is made.
· Extend the definition of what can be protected as an ancient monument to include some battlefield sites and prehistoric settlements.
The Bill is expected to become law in March 2016.
Further information about the Bill can be found here.