Preserving the past

Written by on 25 November 2014

In the past couple of weeks, the Scottish Parliament has paved the way for a new body to be set up to oversee the management and protection of Scotland’s heritage. 
During the final parliamentary stage at Holyrood, the Historic Environment Scotland Bill was backed unanimously by MSPs, giving the green light for the new organisation to be created, subject to Royal Assent. 

Historic Environment Scotland, will play a key role delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment and ensure that heritage is protected and promoted.
 In doing so it will deliver the functions of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). 

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “The historic environment lies at the heart of our cultural identity. It plays a key role in defining who we are, and our place in the world. It tells Scotland’s story. It has intrinsic and instrumental value, over and above any economic considerations. It merits our most careful stewardship for those reasons alone. 

“As well as being central to telling the story of our nation, the historic environment already supports more than 40,000 jobs, contributes well over £2 billion a year to Scotland’s economy, and contributes to the wellbeing of our communities. There is no reason why it cannot offer more.”

While the passing of this Bill might not have set the heather alight, it is nonetheless an important and significant piece of legislation. Scotland’s historic landscape provides an important resource to communities across the country and this Bill goes hand in hand with what the Scottish Government is doing in terms of regenerating town centres.

Speaking at the start of a debate on town centres, which followed the debate on this Bill, Local Government Minister Derek Mackay said: “It is apt that I am here hot on the heels of the Historic Environment Scotland Bill debate, given the important role of historic buildings and conservation areas in many of our town centres. There is huge crossover between the two items, and I have no doubt that the proposed new body will be well positioned alongside key partners to help to make the most of the opportunities to promote both.”

The process is well underway to appoint a board for the new non-departmental public body, which will be fully operational by October 2015. 

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