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English Heritage: Monuments

Volume 495: debated on Wednesday 1 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress his Department has made in designating intertidal wreck sites as ancient monuments; what recent discussions he has had with English Heritage on that matter; what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals for the designation of wreck sites; and what assessment he has made of the merits of designating the Purton Hulks site, Gloucestershire, as an ancient monument. (283169)

Decisions on whether to designate monuments that meet the criteria set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and the non-statutory criteria set out in PPG 16: Archaeology and Planning are taken on a case-by-case basis. No wreck sites in English waters have been designated as scheduled monuments since 2004, nor has the Department had recent discussions with English Heritage on the matter of scheduling intertidal wreck sites.

The site of the Purton Hulks is already afforded statutory protection as it lies within the Severn estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is therefore already subject to statutory controls in respect of nature conservation interests. English Heritage recently met Natural England, British Waterways and local stakeholders specifically to address co-ordinated management of the site, and to define the significance of the assemblage of vessels.

Legislative proposals for reforming the designation of marine heritage assets, including wreck sites, are included in the draft Heritage Protection Bill. We remain committed to bringing this forward at the earliest opportunity.