In October 2008 Cadw and RCAHMW hosted a workshop at the National Library of Wales to brief the archaeological profession in Wales about proposed changes to management of marine and coastal heritage assets.
These changes are likely to result from two new pieces of legislation being considered by the Welsh Assembly Government and the Westminster parliament.
The first is the Heritage Protection Bill which was announced in the background briefing to the Queen's speech on 6 November 2007. At the moment there are three separate systems of listing buildings, scheduling ancient monuments, designating wrecks and registering historic parks, gardens and landscapes. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Welsh Assembly Government propose to establish a unified heritage protection system that is easier to understand. A White Paper explaining the proposed changes was issued in March 2007. The White Paper includes provisions to reform the marine heritage protection regime by broadening the range of marine historic assets that can be protected and bringing greater flexibility to the current licensing under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.
Note: On 3rd December 2008 a Joint Ministerial Statement from Andy Burnham (Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport), Barbara Follett (Minister for Culture) and Baroness Kay Andrews (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) announced that the Heritage Protection Bill was to be put on hold for the time being, although reform work was to continue through 2009.
The second is the Marine and Coastal Access Bill. Among the many subjects covered by bill, the key areas of interest which are likely to affect the management of archaeological and cultural heritage are listed below:
The Bill will create a strategic marine planning system that will clarify objectives and priorities for the future. Defra’s recently published Managing our marine resources – licensing under the Marine Bill explains the changes be made making to marine licensing and the powers being devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government.
Note: On the 3 December 2008 HM Queen’s Speech announced that the Marine and Coastal Access Bill would be included in the legislative programme for the new session of Parliament. On 15 December 2008, the bill had its second reading in the House of Lords.
The Cadw/RCAHMW workshop provided an opportunity explore the implications of these two initiatives by bringing together a range of speakers from government agencies, sponsored organizations and individuals involved day-to-day with marine sites.
Sian Rees and Mathew Collard, Cadw (Cadw Archaeology Offshore An Overview.pdf)
Cadw is the Welsh Assembly Government’s advisor with regard to the marine historic environment. Its role includes designating and scheduling important sites and advising on offshore development control. It also provide funding for survey, excavation and outreach.
Tamsin Brown, Welsh Assembly Government
The newly-established Marine Consents Unit within the Welsh Assembly Government has increasing responsibility for issuing consents for and licencing offshore renewable energy installations, harbour and other construction works, and for marine aggregate dredging.
Mary Lewis, Countryside Council for Wales (CCW Marine Bill and Marine Protected Areas.pdf)
The Countryside Council for Wales is actively involved in the consultation process to establish Highly Protected Marine Protected Areas as a consequence of the additional powers which will be delivered under the proposed Marine and Coastal Access Bill. The existing network of Marine Protected Areas in Wales covers 32% of Welsh territorial seas.
The Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), part of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA), responsible for issuing licences to recover or excavate military aircrash sites in the UK. The remains of all aircraft which have crashed whilst in military service (whether on land or sea) are protected by The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. Some 100 military aircraft currently known to have been downed in the sea around the Welsh coast during the world wars.
Alison Kentuck, Receiver of Wreck, Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA Role of the Receiver of Wreck.pdf)
The main task of the Receiver of Wreck is to process incoming reports of wreck, in the interest of both salvor and owner. This involves researching ownership, and liaising with the finder, owner and other interested parties such as archaeologists and museums.
Deanna Groom, RCAHMW (Maritime Recording Programme of the RCAHMW.pdf)
The RCAHMW is extending the spatial coverage of the National Monuments Record of Wales offshore to record evidence of shipwrecks, downed aircraft and for submerged prehistoric landscapes. This talk describes the work being undertaken over the next five years.
Steve Webster, Wessex Archaeology (Wessex Archaeology Survey Strategies and Mitigation Works.pdf)
Wessex Archaeology is the Government’s archaeological diving contractor responsible for monitoring the condition of six Welsh designated historic wreck sites. It is also the archaeological consultants for several offshore developments proposal undertaking the assessment of potential impacts on heritage assets.
Louise Austin, Dyfed Archaeological Trust (Welsh Archaeological Trusts and Coastal Curation.pdf)
The four Welsh Archaeological Trusts provide a uniform local archaeology service across the whole of Wales. Based on the county areas of Clwyd-Powys, Dyfed, Glamorgan-Gwent and Gwynedd, the Trust’s maintain local Historic Environment Records and provide archaeological advice to local authorities. The Trusts have undertaken strategic research projects on behalf of Cadw, such as the coastal surveys undertaken in the 1990s and more recently a Ports and Harbours initiative, the results of which are described here.
Bill Turner, Malvern Archaeological Diving Unit (Designated Wrecks and the Role of the Licencees.pdf)
Over the years this voluntary group of diving archaeologists has been involved with several of the Welsh Designated Wreck sites, including the RESURGAM and, more recently, the site originally believed to be the DIAMOND in Cardigan Bay. The work carried out by the team includes a programme of underwater survey, the scientific analysis and dating of wood samples, and documentary research into possibly alternative identities for the wreck.
Mark Beattie Edwards, Nautical Archaeology Society (Introducing the Nautical Archaeology Society.pdf)
The Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) is a registered charity dedicated to advancing education in nautical archaeology at all levels. The society undertakes regular training events for divers and non-divers in Wales, publishes a members' newsletter of events, and a learned journal - The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.
The workshop was attended by over 50 individuals from various organisations and special interest groups.