The cultural heritage of the UK is phenomenal. Footprints from early human species have been discovered in the UK dating to around 900,000 years ago. The UK has been settled by homo sapiens since the stone age and is today home to 27 cultural World Heritage Sites. However, it is not only world-famous sites such as Stone Henge that represent our cultural heritage. The UK is home to a breath-taking variety of buildings and structures, monuments, parks and gardens, battlefields, townscapes, landscapes, seascapes, archaeological sites, myths, festivals and traditions.
Safeguarding these cultural heritage assets through professional impact assessment is widely recognised as being critical to achieving sustainable development for present and future generations. However, guidance on this area of practice varies across different sectors, geographies and specialisms within the wider disciple of cultural heritage. Furthermore, the framework within which impact assessment is undertaken is constantly evolving, as are the tools and techniques for undertaking, reporting and applying the findings of the assessment. Due to this variety of practice, cultural heritage practitioners in the UK have, for some time, recognised the need for an authoritative set of principles that would promote good practice in cultural heritage impact assessment.
In 2015, as Chair of the IEMA Impact Assessment Network Steering Group, I helped to launch a new impact assessment working group on Cultural Heritage with the aim of developing guidance on this area. Steering group member Andy Ricketts agreed to chair the group and we began reaching out to cultural heritage institutes to bring together leading practitioners in cultural heritage impact assessment. I am therefore delighted to see the publication of the Principles of Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment, which has been a collaboration between the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA), the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).
For practicing professionals working in cultural heritage impact assessment, this publication provides a useful set of guiding principles to supplement existing guidance and provide a consistent framework for cultural heritage impact assessment in a variety of settings. The application of these principles and good practice will enable practitioners to improve the standard of their assessments, regardless of their particular specialism within the discipline.
On behalf of all three institutes, we would like to express our sincere thanks to all the professionals that volunteered their time to develop the principles. In particular, the core advisory group and contributory authors; Andy Ricketts, James Caird, Stephen Carter, Victoria Cooper, Kirsten Holland, Ian Houlston, Robert Sutton and Edward Holland.
Posted on 20th July 2021
Written by Rufus Howard
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