Welsh Assembly passes new historic environment legislation
The first Wales-only legislation to improve the protection and management of the country’s historic environment has been passed by the National Assembly.
When it becomes law, the Historic Environment (Wales) bill will introduce new measures to protect Wales’ historic environment.
It will make it more difficult for individuals who damage protected monuments to escape prosecution by pleading ignorance of a monument’s status or location.
It will also introduce new powers to take urgent action to stop unauthorised work to historic sites and to prevent historic buildings from falling into disrepair.
The bill also allows the development of a system of preservation notices and will give local authorities new ways to recover their costs when they have to take direct action.
Once the bill becomes law next month Wales will also become the first country in the UK to put historic environment records on a statutory footing.
These records allow advice on decisions by planning authorities and land managers to be based on sound information.
The bill will also simplify some of the systems in place for the management of scheduled monuments and listed buildings by allowing owners to enter into voluntary heritage partnership agreements with consenting authorities.
In addition the legislation will:
- Create an independent panel to provide the Welsh Ministers with expert advice on policy and strategy
- Introduce formal consultation with owners of buildings or monuments before a decision to protect them is made
- Extend the definition of what can be protected as an ancient monument to include some battlefield sites and prehistoric settlements.