29 March 2018

Politics and heritage: recent developments in Wales

There have been a lot of changes to the Welsh system of protecting and managing archaeology and cultural heritage recently, mainly arising from the gestation and implementation of the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016. This has taken place in a politicised atmosphere in which devolution, austerity and Brexit are important factors. I have written an overview of these recent events - in the context of the longer timescale of Welsh devolution, and the evolution of historic environment services in Wales over the last 100 years.

The paper has been published online in the journal The Historic Environment: Policy and Practice. You can read 'Politics and Heritage: Developments in Historic Environment Policy and Practice in Wales' on the journal's website.

Here is the abstract:

'The process of devolution in the U.K. since 1999 has created differences in policy and practice between the different parts of the U.K. This paper considers the historic environment sector in Wales. In practice the Welsh system has always been slightly different from other parts of the U.K, not least because of the role of the four independent Welsh Archaeological Trusts in performing duties that elsewhere are undertaken by public-sector bodies. The passing of the Historic Environment (Wales) Act in 2016 has made that divergence apparent in policy terms as well. The new legislation has also brought into being policy changes and new guidance across the planning system. This is broadly welcomed as a positive step for Wales. However, it has occurred at a difficult time for cultural heritage in the U.K. in general, and in Wales in particular, with economic and political issues close to the surface of policy and practice in the sector. This paper explores the interface between politics and heritage, both over the long term and in the context of implementing the new legislation, and discusses some of the implications for the future of the historic environment sector in Wales.'


I hope you enjoy it, and I would welcome any comments. If you can't access the Taylor and Francis website for the full article, then let me know and I can email a copy. A hard copy of the journal will be posted to subscribers (which include a large number of CIfA members) in June.

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