My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 26 July 2010 our intention to make a number of changes to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s arm’s length bodies. These changes included the abolition of the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites (ACHWS), which was set up to advise Government on the designation and licensing of historic wrecks under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. The ACHWS held its final meeting today, and will cease to exist as of 24 March 2011.
The ACHWS has served a valuable purpose over the years, but we believe that advice on the operation of the 1973 Act can be provided in a more streamlined way. In future such advice will be provided by English Heritage in relation to heritage assets located in UK territorial waters adjacent to England. As the Government’s statutory adviser on the historic environment, English Heritage already provides advice on the protection and conservation of terrestrial heritage assets in England and we believe it makes sense to bring procedures on land and at sea into line. The devolved Administrations will in future source their own advice for Ministers on the operation of the 1973 Act in their respective areas of UK territorial waters.
The Government remain fully committed to ensuring the continued conservation and management of underwater heritage assets in the UK’s territorial waters. We are confident that the new arrangements will ensure the continuation of appropriate advice to Ministers while allowing flexibility to meet the particular needs and circumstances of each country.