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.