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Heritage and Climate Change: Protection at any cost?

A One Day Discussion Forum

Thursday, 5th May 2011

What should the long-term priorities in the intertwined fields of planning and heritage be? Should we first put in place low carbon futures, to achieve that dimension of sustainable living? Are more immediate social or economic goals higher up the list? Or should we maintain or move to a situation where heritage value, however defined, tends to trump either of these goals?

Are there simply planning and heritage “corners” to be fought, or can an overarching value position be constructed?

This dilemma is becoming sharper. The reason is climate change. Major infrastructure schemes have been proposed to try to secure more sustainable futures in Britain. Recent examples include the Severn Barrage, the High Speed 2 rail route from London to the North, and large wind farms on and offshore. All would cause significant damage to historic sites, if constructed. At the same time there are, or will be, thousands of small proposals, from putting solar panels on Tudor farmhouses to heat storage facilities dug into urban back gardens. How do we decide on the balance of energy sustainability vs. heritage protection, viewed from our respective professional positions? The politics of lobbying and democratic politics hold major sway here. National Policy Statements, for example, are being drawn up in the energy and transport fields, which will frame the largest project decisions; meanwhile, the government’s new localism agenda is set to create a seismic shift in the planning regime. But professionals and communities alike need to form views on the basis of coherent arguments.

Planners and those in heritage professions (including archaeologists, historic buildings and conservation specialists) come at this set of questions from different angles. This one day workshop aims to bring some practitioners from each “side” together to debate the issues, and reach initial conclusions – or start a process to that end.

  • Dr Joe Flatman, Senior Lecturer, UCL Institute of Archaeology, London
  • Dr Tim Marshall, Reader, Department of Planning, Oxford Brookes University
  • Professor Yvonne Rydin, Director, UCL Environment Institute, London

To view the programme please click here.

Download the summary report by clicking here.

Click on the links below to view the presentation slides: