BEFS welcomes new Director Ailsa Macfarlane into post this week.

BEFS is delighted to welcome new Director Ailsa Macfarlane into post this week. Ailsa succeeds Euan Leitch who is taking up a new role as Chief Executive of SURF.

Ailsa, who first joined BEFS as Policy & Strategy Manager in 2017, previously managed the Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage project and worked for Museums Galleries Scotland. Coming from a cultural-heritage project management background, Ailsa has wide-ranging experience with partnership working and stakeholder collaboration across Scotland. She is widely respected throughout Scotland’s built environment sector, having delivered a strong programme of strategic policy work during her time with BEFS. This has included BEFS work on the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, Prioritisation work (informing the Sustainable Investment Toolkit on behalf of the OPiT Built Heritage Investment Group), and leading on sector responses to the COVID-19 crisis, through the COVID Historic Environment Resilience Forum.

The appointment was made by BEFS Board and BEFS Chair, Iain McDowall, said:

“The Board of BEFS are delighted to welcome Ailsa Macfarlane as the new Director. It was an extremely easy and unanimous decision by the Board and is clearly welcomed by any who know Ailsa and her work. We look forward to working with her in her new role, as BEFS continues to address the many challenges facing the sector.”

Director, Ailsa Macfarlane, said:

“It gives me great pleasure to be continuing BEFS collaborative and partnership based approach; making sure the sector is well represented, well understood, and evidencing delivery across nationwide strategies and national performance frameworks. None of this would be possible without the knowledge and support of the Board, BEFS Members, and the amazing staff team.”

Outgoing Director, Euan Leitch, said:

“Ailsa has been an excellent Policy & Advocacy Manager and I couldn’t be happier to pass the BEFS baton on to her. I’m really looking forward, now as an Associate Member, to seeing where Ailsa and the team take BEFS next, it can only be better.”

Further information on Ailsa Macfarlane’s background can be found here.

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BEFS provides an overview of policy commitments in the party manifestos that would have implications for Scotland’s built environment.

BEFS has undertaken an overview of policy commitments found in the manifestos of political parties currently represented in the Scottish Parliament, with some yet to be published, that would have implications for Scotland’s built environment. The most significant change to previous manifesto is the that most are giving significant attention to the climate emergency.

This selection is no way authoritative and we would recommend you reading the manifestos in their entirety.

Manifesto Commitments for the Built Environment in the Scottish Election

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A joint statement on building for Scotland’s communities.

The next Scottish Government must co-ordinate legislation, strategies and funding if its vision of a sustainable, resilient and inclusive future is to be achieved.

A coalition of Scotland’s leading experts on the built environment has said there must be a shift from overlapping and disjointed strategies to complementarity and synergised policy making and from an opportunistic, reactive approach to development, to a planned, proactive approach.

The Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Landscape Institute Scotland and Institution of Civil Engineers Scotland issued a joint statement ahead of tonight’s (March 9th) Cross Party Group on Architecture and the Built Environment.

The statement is based around three areas – Professionalism, Prioritisation and People.

Euan Leitch, Director of Built Environment Forum Scotland said “BEFS work across the policy landscape – and collaboration of this kind is what will enable a stronger, regenerative, greener, and just transition for Scotland. Working on a maintenance agenda BEFS want to see policy and the professions working in unison to improve our places to meet climate, community, cultural, and economic need.”

ICE Scotland Director, Hannah Smith, said: “To achieve the Scottish Government’s vision of infrastructure supporting Scotland’s resilience and enabling inclusive, net zero and sustainable growth, we must first establish if our infrastructure is fit for purpose. “There must now be a strategic ‘resiliency audit’ to identify priorities and the most meaningful interventions to ensure our infrastructure is as durable as possible, particularly to withstand the effects of extreme weather.”

Rachel Tennant, Chair of Landscape Institute Scotland, said “LIS believe that multifunctional places needs to be at the heart of our built environment to ensure we can sustainably deliver on a range of societal benefits for the future. Diverse, well designed and managed places can deliver climate change adaption, increase the resilience of our communities and businesses, improve our health and wellbeing, as well as protect and enhance nature.  Collaborative and empowering approaches are essential to the delivery of this.”

RIAS President Christina Gaiger said “The RIAS believe in a Scotland where we protect the environment through legislation and regulate for a zero-carbon future.  By adopting quality focused, and collaborative approaches that avoid impacts, we can create a built environment that lowers or eradicates energy demand.  The Climate Crisis and the experience of the pandemic illustrate that change is needed but also that it can happen.”

RICS Scotland National Board Chair, Richard Burnett said “As we look towards a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Scotland’s built environment professionals will play a pivotal role in tackling some of the most prominent domestic issues in Scotland, including the lack of adequate housing, renewing our high streets, creating a 21st-century infrastructure network and addressing the challenges of climate change.  A coordinated and collaborative approach will provide the leadership and expertise that will help guide decision makers in ensuring a swift recovery and economic prosperity.”

Barbara Cummins, Convenor of RTPI Scotland, said “Covid-19 has allowed us to appreciate the importance of the places we live in. A more coordinated approach across government will allow us to create the ‘twenty minute neighbourhoods’ that people need so that they live in well-designed, attractive, healthy and sustainable communities where they have local access to the services, shops and facilities they need on a daily basis.”

Ends.

Should you require further information please contact Craig McLaren, Director of Scotland, Ireland and English Regions at RTPI.

T: craig.mclaren@rtpi.org.uk
E: 07850 926881

Notes to Editors

The full statement can be read here.

RTPI Scotland

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is the champion of planning and the planning profession. We work to promote the art and science of planning for the public benefit. We have around 2100 members in Scotland and a worldwide membership of over 25,000. RTPI Scotland’s members represent both the public and private sector interests and will in large part be responsible for the successful delivery of the planning system.

www.rtpi.org.uk

Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) was founded in 1916. With over 5,200 members, the Incorporation is the professional body for all of Scotland’s chartered architects. The RIAS is a champion of Architecture and the Built Environment in Scotland.  It supports the interests of its growing membership, united through its six regional chapters, to promote the importance of well-designed buildings and places. The RIAS is a charity run by, and for, its members.

www.rias.org.uk

RICS Scotland

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is the principal body representing professionals employed in the land, property and construction sectors. In Scotland, the Institution represents over 6500 members comprising chartered surveyors (MRICS or FRICS) and Associate surveyors (AssocRICS), as well as trainees and graduates. Our members are employed in private practice, central and local government, public agencies, academic institutions, business organisations and non-governmental organisations.

As part of its Royal Charter, RICS has a commitment to provide advice to the government[s] of the day and, in doing so, has an obligation to bear in mind the public interest as well as the interests of its members.

www.rics.org

Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS)

Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) is an umbrella body for organisations working in the built environment in Scotland. Drawing on extensive expertise in a membership-led forum, BEFS informs, debates and advocates on the strategic issues, opportunities and challenges facing Scotland’s historic and contemporary built environment.

www.befs.org.uk

Landscape Institute Scotland

The Landscape Institute (LI) is the royal chartered body for the landscape profession. We represent over 500 landscape architects, planners, designers, managers and scientists in Scotland. As a professional organisation and educational charity, we protect and enhance the built and natural environment for the public benefit., Its devolved nation Branch, the Landscape Institute Scotland, is at the forefront of recognising the importance of well-designed and managed landscapes and places, and the benefits they bring to society.

www.landscapeinstitute.org/scotland/

ICE Scotland

ICE Scotland supports and represents over 8,000 members living and working in Scotland. Our members design, build and maintain Scotland’s transport, water supply and treatment, flood management, waste and energy infrastructure. As a professional body we organise knowledge events and promote civil engineering by working in partnership with industry, government and education.

www.ice.org.uk/scotland

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A Joint Statement from organisations whose members plan, design, build and manage Scotland’s cities, towns, buildings, and infrastructure.

A Joint Statement from:

  • Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland
  • Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland
  • Built Environment Forum Scotland
  • Landscape Institute Scotland
  • Institution of Civil Engineers Scotland

We are the organisations whose members plan, design, build and manage Scotland’s cities, towns, buildings, and infrastructure. We represent a combined membership of around 22,500 people across Scotland and recognise the need for our professions to work together to build Scotland’s future.

Our built environment is critical to how we live our lives. Our members will play an important part in how we achieve a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. We will support the governments route map for a different Scotland, that must:

  • tackle climate change and achieve Scotland’s net zero carbon reduction targets,
  • reduce health inequalities across Scotland,
  • support a wellbeing economy,
  • ensure a quality and affordable home for everyone who needs one.

This will require new ways of working to achieve the ‘new normal’. Ways that embed resilience into how our buildings, landscapes and places in cities, towns, villages, and neighbourhoods’ function and develop over time. We believe that this requires shifts:

  • from short-term, project focussed investment to a planned long term holistic vision,
  • from having overlapped and disjointed strategies to collective and complementarity policy making,
  • from an opportunistic, reactive approach to development, to a planned, proactive approach,
  • from economic priorities, to holistic priorities to tackle environmental, social and economic issues,
  • from a competitive investment approach, to sustainable managed investment,
  • from a ‘deal-making’ approach, to one based on providing a place vision first.

We support this vision and urge that Ministers activate:

Professionalism. Our highly skilled professionals meet the exacting standards to become and remain members. Their expertise in planning, designing, building, maintaining, and managing buildings and places, needs to be recognised in policy development, delivery, and procurement

There is a fundamental priority to ‘shift the gaze’ from measuring success from metrics around speed and quantity, to the quality of places, buildings, and infrastructure.

Prioritisation. Our members rely upon a clear policy context supported by funding to deliver. We believe that this must promote and prioritise climate action, tackling inequalities, improving our Nation’s health and wellbeing creating an inclusive economy and delivering quality housing and infrastructure, both natural and built, to support communities.

Scotland needs joined up and coordinated government funding programmes and strategies specifically linking the aims of the National Planning Framework, Infrastructure Investment Plan, Housing Investment Strategy, Land Use Strategy, Energy Strategy, Climate Change Plan, National Transport Strategy and Public Health Strategy, alongside overall policy aims in health and social wellbeing and creating a low carbon and circular economy. 

People. Our members strive to play their role in supporting the delivery of national policy priorities and Scotland’s National Outcomes, including tackling climate change, achieving net zero emissions by 2045 and meeting new housing targets. This requires investing in these services, supporting their continued development, and ensuring we have a pipeline of professionals coming through to ensure we meet these ambitions.

There must be support for future professionals, to reverse the disinvestment in public services and to develop a range of alternative routes to qualification. 

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is the champion of planning and the planning profession. We work to promote the art and science of planning for the public benefit. We have around 2100 members in Scotland and a worldwide membership of over 25,000. RTPI Scotland’s members represent both the public and private sector interests and will in large part be responsible for the successful delivery of the planning system.
www.rtpi.org.uk

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) was founded in 1916. With over 5,200 members, the Incorporation is the professional body for all of Scotland’s chartered architects. The RIAS is a champion of Architecture and the Built Environment in Scotland.  It supports the interests of its growing membership, united through its six regional chapters, to promote the importance of well-designed buildings and places. The RIAS is a charity run by, and for, its members.
www.rias.org.uk

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is the principal body representing professionals employed in the land, property and construction sectors. In Scotland, the Institution represents over 6500 members comprising chartered surveyors (MRICS or FRICS) and Associate surveyors (AssocRICS), as well as trainees and graduates. Our members are employed in private practice, central and local government, public agencies, academic institutions, business organisations and non-governmental organisations. As part of its Royal Charter, RICS has a commitment to provide advice to the government[s] of the day and, in doing so, has an obligation to bear in mind the public interest as well as the interests of its members.
www.rics.org/uk

Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) is an umbrella body for organisations working in the built environment in Scotland. Drawing on extensive expertise in a membership-led forum, BEFS informs, debates and advocates on the strategic issues, opportunities and challenges facing Scotland’s historic and contemporary built environment.
www.befs.org.uk

The Landscape Institute (LI) is the royal chartered body for the landscape profession. We represent over 500 landscape architects, planners, designers, managers and scientists in Scotland. As a professional organisation and educational charity, we protect and enhance the built and natural environment for the public benefit., Its devolved nation Branch, the Landscape Institute Scotland, is at the forefront of recognising the importance of well-designed and managed landscapes and places, and the benefits they bring to society.
www.landscapeinstitute.org/scotland/

ICE Scotland supports and represents over 8,000 members living and working in Scotland. Our members design, build and maintain Scotland’s transport, water supply and treatment, flood management, waste and energy infrastructure. As a professional body we organise knowledge events and promote civil engineering by working in partnership with industry, government and education.
www.ice.org.uk/scotland

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BEFS will be saying a fond farewell to Director, Euan Leitch, in the Spring.

In Spring, BEFS will be saying a fond farewell to Director, Euan Leitch, as he takes up a new role as Chief Executive of SURF – Scotland’s Regeneration Forum.

In his 7 years with BEFS – first in Advocacy and Communications, then as Director – Euan has brought expertise, enthusiasm, and considerable skill in bringing the breadth of the sector together, and addressing the strategic matters of our time. From exploring diversity at a national conference, to pushing for legislative change in relation to tenement maintenance; his important legacy of listening to the sector, and holding the space for discussion and debate is work that BEFS looks forward to continuing.

The Board and BEFS team will be very sorry to see Euan go but are delighted to see he will still be working within the built environment and, as SURF are BEFS Members, he will not be a stranger. We wish him all the best in his new post.

Details on a new Director of BEFS will be provided in due course.

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As part of their year-long awareness raising campaign, Police Scotland highlight the dangers of building development to bats and badgers.

Brown long-eared stuck to fly paper
Brown long-eared stuck to fly paper

Brown long-eared stuck to fly paper © Daniel Hargreaves.

Police Scotland is running a year-long awareness raising campaign to tackle wildlife crime across the country.

Operation Wingspan, which started in October last year, focusses on each of the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) wildlife crime priorities in turn.

In February and March bat crime is being highlighted, while the previous phase referred to badger persecution.

One of the greatest threats to the wellbeing of bats and badgers is development such as construction, roof work and tree cutting. Such development, even if well intentioned, may be a criminal offence if these species or their homes are disturbed. As such Police Scotland Wildlife Crime Officers have been proactively visiting and surveying badger setts and bat roosts across Scotland that have been identified as at risk.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gary Cunningham, Police Scotland’s Wildlife Crime portfolio holder said:

“Police Scotland is committed to tackling wildlife crime and Operation Wingspan provides a platform to do that.

We have a rich natural environment in Scotland including badgers and bats, which are afforded legal protection. But that does not necessarily mean development or restoration cannot go ahead in locations where these species reside. There is often a solution that works for all parties. But it is crucial that anyone wishing to undertake such development follow correct procedures”.

Liz McLachlan, NatureScot Licensing Manager, said:

“It’s important that anyone wishing to undertake development that may disturb badger setts, bat roosts or any other protected species takes advice at the earliest opportunity.

“Our website has lots of really useful guidance to support developers to take forward proposed work where possible, while maintaining the welfare of protected species.”

Bats

Bats often roost in the roofs of old buildings, which can pose difficulties for those in the heritage sector.

Regulation 39(1) Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations 1994 makes it an offence for a person to deliberately or recklessly disturb a bat in a manner likely to impact on breeding, rearing young or population distribution.  Under this regulation it is also a strict liability offence to destroy or damage a bat roost, even if no bats are present.

If someone wishes to undertake development where a bat roost is present they should consult NatureScot (01463 725364 / licensing@nature.scot) or the Bat Conservation Trust first. These organisations might advise that a bat survey be undertaken by an ecologist to establish if a roost is present. Subject to the outcome of that report it may be necessary to apply for a license from NatureScot. These licences are available free of charge to enable most development works to go ahead while minimising the impact upon bats.

Contact NatureScot Licensing Team on 01463 725364 or licensing@nature.scot.

More information on bats and development can be found on the NatureScot and Bat Conservation Trust websites.

Badgers

Section 2(1)(c) Protection of Badgers Act 1992 makes it an offence to Interfere with a badger sett. This includes damaging a sett, obstructing access or disturbing a badger while it is in the sett.

A spokesperson from Scottish Badgers said:

“As badgers live in underground structures, they are particularly sensitive and vulnerable to nearby construction. As soon as a sett is suspected to be within the footprint of any development, professional advice should be sought immediately. It is an offence to interfere with or damage an active sett in any way, and licences through NatureScot while available, do come with strict conditions that must be adhered to in order to remain legal”.

If someone wishes to undertake development which is within 30m of an active badger sett or they think may disturb a badger sett (pile driving or blasting), the process is very similar to that of bats, where early contact with NatureScot Licensing Team is advised, or alternatively advice may be sought from Scottish Badgers operationscoordinator@scottishbadgers.org.uk (www.scottishbadgers.org.uk).

 

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BEFS online webinar ‘The State of Heritage 2021-22’ held on 4th February 2021.

Continuing the CHERF series of events, BEFS held a well attended webinar on The State of Heritage 2021-22 with excellent contributions from leaders across the sector discussing the financial, employment and organisational outlook for this coming year. A summary report and comment on the event from BEFS Policy & Strategy Manager Ailsa Macfarlane is available below.

Download the full report here.

Chaired by Prof Ian Baxter, BEFS Vice Chair.

Sharing their organisational perspectives:

  • Caroline Clark, National Lottery Heritage Fund
  • Andrew Hopetoun, Historic Houses Scotland
  • Stuart Brooks, National Trust for Scotland
  • Eithne Ní Chonghaile, Museums Galleries Scotland
  • Alex Paterson, Historic Environment Scotland

Joining them for discussion:

  • Lucy Casot, Museums Galleries Scotland
  • Anna Leask, Napier University
  • Adam Jackson, Historic Environment Scotland
  • Alison Turnbull, Historic Environment Scotland

BEFS extend their thanks to all panellists – their insights, candour, and openness are appreciated; and to all those who attended and provided questions. The collaborative nature of these events is designed to enable the widest understanding of the place we collectively, and individually, find ourselves in during this challenging time. Seeking that knowledge understanding would not be possible without participation from across the sector.

Euan Leitch, BEFS opened, providing an update on the Scottish Government Budget in relation to the sector. BEFS have now provided an overview document of relevant details.

The sector was anticipating harsh and severe cuts, and whilst there are some cuts they appear more marginal than feared. Many areas have a similar budget to last year. Usually, the Budget comes with description of what is to be delivered, particularly by Agencies and Public Bodies. That detail has not been released yet (at time of event).

Caroline Clark, National Lottery Heritage Fund  Brought extensive information and sector context from NLHF’s work in 2020/2021. As an organisation they take a holistic approach to funding, across the breadth of heritage, as it’s perceived by applying organisations applying. In reaction to the pandemic, they moved from project funding to heritage emergency support funding – it was imperative to be able to fund where there was most need. This funding programme provided substantial sector information, analysis was provided in Evidence to the Culture Committee (evidence was also provided in those papers by Abbotsford Trust, HES and NTS).

Analysis of cashflows from bids (105 organisations were awarded £6.4M over summer 2020), assessed that there was a £24-29M financial gap for the sector for the end of financial year. This was most likely to be hitting revenue support due to Covid, the recapitalising of reserves was also a significant factor. Further in-depth interviews were carried out, these highlighted:

  • loss of volunteering
  • costs of social distancing measures
  • viability concerns though loss of revenue

NLHF  Small Grants programme is now live and insights from the 28 community organisations making  enquiries (£1.6M ask) suggests a focus on wellbeing, inclusion, and community activism in the world of heritage. This reflects the local connections to place that have been highlighted in this time of crisis.

Caroline reiterated the concerns raised to the Culture Committee around the need need to examine the Local Authority sector and the impact these financial challenges will be having on their culture infrastructure.

NLHF is seeing:

  • Real challenges for capital funding projects currently in delivery.
  • Strong shift to digital from some organisations – often those larger/more secure. Harder for smaller, community, and rural heritage sectors.
  • Loss of volunteers and volunteering activity continuing to be a significant issue.
  • Concern over the ending of furlough.
  • The health of the work force is also a real issue.
  • A lack of ‘head-space’ and ability for organisations to make strategic decisions
  • A moving picture, where collaboration and partnership will be pivotal to future sustainability
  • Anecdotally – Boards feel more risk averse; big change/large capital projects seem unlikely. Perhaps for 2-3 years as the effects of both Covid and Brexit reveal themselves more fully.

Difficult to forecast the future, NLHF main grant programmes are only just reopening. Applications will provide more insight for the ambitions of the sector.

NLHF is aware of the complexity of the picture,  the need for funders to stay agile and flexible; weighing up the support for those in delivery and facing challenges, with new programmes, and how best to support communities.

Caroline stressed the responsibility to listen and be responsive to sector need. Especially to remember to listen for the silences, the quiet slipping away as capacity dwindles in fragile organisations.

Andrew Hopetoun, Historic Houses Scotland  Reflected on the outlook, mindful that it is hard to strike a balance between the negative, and the agility and resilience of Members to adapt.

Historic Houses surveyed members in December 2020.  Members represent the largest collection of historic houses and gardens with 1500 property Members.  60% of Members usually open throughout the year,  with a third open for day visitors in the traditional way. The survey revealed:

  • 15% of those usually open, didn’t open at all in 2020
  • Scale of those who did open extremely reduced:
    • Less than a quarter of their usual season for 50% of properties
    • A third had only half a season
    • Only 10% managed something that looked relatively normal.
  • Membership reported 75% reduction in visitors
  • Turnover dropped to around 50%
  • Estimated losses across HH Members UK wide – £280M, with expectation this will rise.

Those were severe results across the Membership.

  • 50% of Members reported no support apart from the job retention/furlough scheme.
  • 2/3 of members reported no or minimal repairs and maintenance occurring.
    • Previously Scottish Membership reported a backlog of £60M of urgent repairs, this will have increased.

In the case of Hopetoun House, measures such as furlough, CBILS, and grants from HES & NLHF have helped to weather the crisis. There is still a six-figure impact on the business, difficult for any charity.

There were high points: Wondrous Woods – outdoor event drew 30K visitors from a wide spread of demographics – and importantly provided 100+ people with employment. Numbers meant that Hopetoun received over 50% of usual visitor numbers.

The HH Member survey suggested that when most properties would usually expect to open at Spring/Easter 2021, this season only 82% are planning to open. A positive point from respondents has been that paying visitors were more appreciative of the grounds and gave more feedback. Members are considering how their outdoor offering may change to reflect visitor responses.

Looking to the future, the current uncertainty remains difficult. Visit Scotland are attempting to promote tourism. Balance remains difficult to find: the risks is that we find ourselves with tourism promotion, overshadowed by safety measures which depress demand; or the opposite, that undercooked safety measures do not aid a sustained recovery, which is significantly worse. It is of note that UK Hospitality sees holiday bookings 90% down on last year.

Across HH about 13% of those 15,000 employed were made redundant in 2020. The survey also suggests same number at risk again this year. This helps to illustrate the devasting, personal, and multi-season impact which may be felt across so many parts of the sector.

Whilst Members are willing to act as necessary and remain adaptable, there are clouds of concern leading to nervousness and cautiousness – particularly for the events/wedding aspects of the sector, overnight accommodations (particularly with new implications from regulations and licences for short-term lets being agreed the Local Government Committee recently),  and access takers leading to some surges in bad behaviour and crime in some instances.

Like many, HH are actively lobbying for a heritage recovery plan. This includes such measures as: Extension of relief schemes; support for specific areas (eg – support for wedding sector was extremely welcome); and VAT parity/reduction.

Stuart Brooks, National Trust for Scotland Was honest about the catastrophic impacts for NTS. Giving a detailed overview of the far reaching pandemic effect on the organisation.

There were periodic closures of all built properties – challenges even assessing/maintaining/accessing more remote sites (St Kilda).

  • Countryside remained open, gardens first to re-open
  • 88% drop in visitor income
  • 60% drop in holiday cottage income
  • 72% down on total visitors -biggest impact from paying visitors and travel trade –countryside less impacted
  • 230 staff redundancies – most significant is the loss of colleagues (430 staff were at risk)
  • Cancellation or postponement of projects –maintenance & rural paths impacts
  • Projecting significant deficits for 2021 & 22

Visitor profiles changed, some completely – with Overseas Visitors – down to 1.3% from 24%. UK visitors (from both Scotland and England) rising significantly.

There were also some more positive outcomes.

It forced NTS to accelerate change

  • Membership has been loyal (10% down – but better outcome than expected)–invested in digital and other engagement
  • Members and public responded to emergency appeal – £3.5M –emphasised NTS charitable cause
  • Remote working has enhanced efficiency, improved communications and reduced carbon emissions
  • Visitor experience predominantly positive
  • NTS kept people safe (new protocols produced and implemented)
  • Bring forward strategic review
  • Positive response and financial support from Scottish Government – enabled reinstatement of some key projects

Able to consider the visitor experience during Covid.  91% very happy with visitor experience during Covid and almost 80% reported a similar or more positive experience due to Covid measures.

Overall the impacts for NTS are felt –

Across heritage:

  • Buildings maintenance & repairs delayed – hopefully short term
  • Gardens –potential weed legacy
  • Countryside –requirement for education and infrastructure investment if numbers sustain
  • Delayed investment –future impact

Across the charity:

  • Big measures – from catastrophic to manageable
  • Reserves depleted
  • Enhanced value and relevance
  • Better appreciation of charitable status and need for support
  • A platform that can be built on – optimistic outlook

Across our people:

  • Impacts on people is the hardest. Staff mental health is low and fatigue is setting in – this is the hardest aspect, especially with a tricky year in view.

The following detail was provided after the event due to time constraints on the day.

NTS Short term

  • Planning for partial income recovery and phased reopening (timing under threat/review)
  • Assumed domestic market permissible and willing
  • New 10 year strategic plan in development for 2022
  • Greater focus on dynamic risk management and contingency planning

Legacy for NTS

  • People’s value of access to greenspace and digital –align and promote social outcomes, including health
  • More efficient and climate friendly ways of working
  • Greater emphasis on partnership working
  • Resilience and relevance are totems

Issues on the Horizon

  • Planning in a period of extreme uncertainty
  • Short notice -easing of lockdown measures, any foreign market, knock-on from city based tourism
  • Absence of furlough and short notice -adds to risk of loading costs
  • Political uncertainty -Post Brexit and Scotland
  • Keeping our workforce safe –matching staff to vaccination programme
  • Mental health and fatigue

Eithne Ní Chonghaile, Museums Galleries Scotland  Strongly echoed what we’d heard – the challenges are still there. Many recovery schemes were designed prior to current restrictions and closures are now lasting longer,  and are deeper than might have been expected.

ASVA Survey – visitor numbers at Scottish attractions down 72% last year compared to previous year. And Museum & Galleries figures was down 77%. Peak of 160 Museums open in October 2020, from 440 potential sites. The reality is that most of the Museums sector faces full calendar year closed.

MGS is grateful for additional, sector funding support from the Scottish Government – MGS distributed 290 grants worth £5.8M supporting 200 museums last year.  With much of that funding coming from the £4M Recovery and Resilience Fund for independent museums.  £3.1M additional funding has recently released from Scottish Government and an additional second round of funding is now open.

With reduced visitor numbers and reduced visitor spend, as well as restrictions – many museums will still be unable to open should social distancing be in place.  Safe opening and adaptations has also had a financial impact and MGS has reopened its Covid Adaptation Fund.

Independent Museums and Galleries were a funding priority as it was an extremely hard hit part of the sector. But – emergency funding ends in June, the job retention scheme is due to end in April, and a lot of uncertainty remains. Tourism seems unlikely to recover this year and significant impacts on income continue. The uncertainty impacts on planning exhibitions and activity. Further revenue support will be necessary to ensure survival.

For example:

V&A 2021 – expected numbers 45K – 90% down on a normal year

Industrial Museums survey showed their members expecting 50% income in comparison to 2019.

MGS reiterated the concerned raised by NLHF over the health of the civic sector (125 museums run by Local Authority and Arms-Length cultural bodies). This vulnerable section of the sector is not able to apply for funding in the same way as independent museums. And their current predicament is set in the context of a decade of reduced revenue funding and reductions in staff numbers. The biggest operator in this field is Glasgow Life, and it saw visitor numbers reduce from 3.4M to under 70k – these figures do not allow for viable reopening with the consequential knock-on for catering, and additional services. As non-statutory services, they are at the bottom of funding priorities, this is despite growing visitor numbers and contributions to their local places and communities far beyond their traditional remits. Further squeeze on these sites, as Local Authority budgets remain stretched, is to be expected.

As places providing access to the stories of communities across extensive periods of time, museums and galleries are unique contributors to the identity of place; locally, regionally and nationally. The loss of these local venues will have a detrimental effect on local places for years to come.

The uncertainty has deep impacts on workforce health. MGS worked from the start to enable informal workforce connections, as well as providing free mental health and wellbeing sessions with Solve. Organisations have expressed concerns as to how to bring people together who have very different pandemic experiences. Organisations also express challenge in finding the capacity and headspace for strategic planning.

Looking ahead, MGS will be continuing to advocate for the sector and to advocate for further financial support. Partnerships have been key to their work this year, the skills, learning, information sharing has been essential to successes, and will continue. MGS launched their sector Delivery Plan days before moving to home-working –  and the 4 areas of focus remain relevant (workforce development; digital development; sector resilience; and response to the climate emergency).

Over the year MGS has seen the sector adapt demonstrating: organisational agility, digital expansion, live-learning events, and skills training and employability provision. MGS’ own training programmes remained live, and they are now a gateway for the Government Kick-start scheme. The Surviving to Thriving programme run by MGS in partnership with greenspace scotland and BEFS welcomed the successful participating organisations this month.

MGS know the future funding environment will look different – Museums will need to innovative and collaborate. MGS also know that funding will be necessary during this time to enable that adaptation from recovery to resilience.

Alex Paterson, Historic Environment Scotland Brought a philosophical macro-view on commonalities across the sector, carefully considering more specifically where we find ourselves now, and where we might be moving towards.

Where we are: Challenging times remain. In CHERF during June (2020) it felt like a glimmer of change and hope as things began to reopen. Now, we’re still dealing with the pandemic consequences.

This sector, like so many others, is the beneficiary of numerous support schemes, support which will be needed for some time to come. HES has been one of those beneficiaries. Evidence HES presented to the Culture Committee expressed some of the challenges. The impact on HES has been huge:

  • 85% of commercial income expected to disappear
  • 900 colleagues on furlough
  • Edinburgh Castle 2.1M visitors in 2019/20 reduced to – 277K in 2020/21

Income from Scottish Government has enabled HES to support others through their grant schemes. Many challenges with current projects have been seen – and flexibility has been necessary. The Historic Environment Recovery Fund distributed 41 awards totalling just under 2M. These support schemes have been, and remain, critical.

Alex spoke about the wider ripple effect – another angle appears to this situation with regularity. The suppliers, caterers, researchers, specialist organisations of all kinds, – within and without the sector – the whole eco-system are all affected. Only as the sector reopens (when it can reopen) will we know more about the state of these organisations too.  Skills training has been impacted, with recruits down; repair and maintenance is delayed – growing a backlog of work, but also with assessment of some sites unable to take place.

Consequences over the longer-term on our built environment will also be seen. Consequences of home working, the effects of online worship, changing living and working patterns will affect our towns and cities. A year ago, the impacts we might have been discussing would have focused on Brexit – and those impacts too, need consideration. Our supply-chains, state-aid rules, structural funds and future investments will all be impacted.

Looking forward: Returning to the Budget – most parts of the budget for this sector were, as good, or better than could have been expected.

The real challenge is how to plan, there are more variables than we are used to and a lack of control over those variables. What assumptions can we (all) make – over visitor numbers, over opening of sites, over income?

What it means for HES: In 2021/22 HES will continue to be ambitious, but with realism and pragmatism playing their role, prioritising and controlling costs. HES will focus on core business and core purpose. What core business looks like has also changed – use of digital technologies and other routes to market have become more significant. Building core business will not be what was had before – but will a major part of the future focus.

2021/22 is an unusual year. Unless there is dramatic change there will not huge numbers of international visitors. The market will be primarily domestic visitors. This will be a distinctive year and a different offer and new engagement will be needed.

There is an opportunity as a sector – we can do more, and say more, about the relevance of what we do collectively out-with the sector. How does what we do contribute to the wider economic recovery, and how do we articulate more effectively how this sector contributes to other critical priorities around wellbeing, reducing inequalities, and the community and place making agendas? There is more to say around our work in relation to the future of sustainable tourism, and the response to the climate emergency.

We have an opportunity to promote the relevance of what we do and the wider contribution we make.

COMFORT BREAK

Panel Discussion – Chaired by Ian Baxter

Alex Paterson had another commitment, the panel was joined by Adam Jackson and Alison Turnbull from Historic Environment Scotland, as well as Lucy Casot from Museums Galleries Scotland, and Anna Leask from Napier University.

Initial thoughts were drawn from Lucy and Anna.

LC: Easy to focus inwards, on own organisation, and own issues. Now critical to seek to work together,  to work collectively, across heritage. We can learn from each other and have broad discussions that benefit place-based approaches. Partnership working needs to be prioritised. Difficult to find this balance between the day-to-day with strategic thinking for the future.

AL: The range of speakers emphasised the breadth and diversity of the sector, and the close and complex relationship between heritage and tourism. There has been a lack of understanding about the sector, not just things like charitable status, but also eligibility for funding stemming from diversification of offer. This lack of understanding was even seen in relation to social distancing – visitor attraction sites had 2m rules when  hospitality and entertainment had 1m.

We also heard about people: The stresses on staff, the flattening of hierarchies, how to skills, and upskill. Concerns remain around volunteers, particularly the older age profile. And visitors themselves have changed – the focus is now on domestic, and also where concentrations of visitors have perhaps led to rural concerns.

But the response from the sector has been phenomenal, finding ways through funding (which is complex), adapting and innovating, providing new experiences.

Audience Questions were taken in order of submission.

Question: on Connectivity and the Rural/Urban divide.

SB: Digital connectivity as a focus has been a challenge but it calls for speed of change so that rural communities can fully participate.

AT: HES thinking about their own national footprint, considering their properties in care and sites, as hubs in their communities. HES accelerated their own work, and moved to working remotely. HES have a Digital strategy being reviewed at the moment. The pandemic has highlighted issues around digital divide, which the Scottish Government are also addressing. We need to work with partners that we’ve never worked with before. We don’t often come together like this, and we need to make more opportunities.

LC: Needed to fund the community museums too. Their value as hubs is very important. Those with connectivity have found this a benefit in some ways, the lack of need to travel, and the ability for all to have equitable participation – those lessons need to remain key.

AH: greater impetus from this situation to find solutions and be willing to invest in those.

Question: Tourism and heritage – how we see the balance – sustainable funding for projects. Change in markets. Etc

CC: Complex picture within Scotland. Different visitor markets across different places, remote/urban etc. Seen a flourishing in creative and innovative ways moving from what was developed for tourism market to delivering deep social benefits to hard hit local communities. Need to not lose these powerful connections. A real richness that shouldn’t be lost. Demonstrates how the sector can deliver wellbeing – not just locally but more widely.

Tourism is a big employer for young people in rural places, rural connectivity can enable young people to stay in their communities. We’ve seen so many clever solutions and  perhaps the increasing of opportunities and can be kept.

AL: Data up to 2019 a large amount is domestic (70%) in terms of volume, value is higher for international. But domestic positives: short lead time, less seasonality, wider age spread too. A lot to be said for domestic market. Challenges appear with travel restrictions – limited international can still bring domestic difficulties. Opportunities – for the future – visiting friends and relatives is key to changes. Local people visiting local places. More value being seen by communities and individuals. Pushing at an open door, how to develop and what people want in their local places. Developing different markets. Educating visitors to understand what they’re supporting. But infrastructure needs grow with some of this.

SB: No-one wants a dependence on any particular segment of the visitor sector. Value all of these sectors and interest, there is a financial value attached to that. How can organisations best utilise the income and the value to make their properties more relevant and reduce barriers to access.

AH: ties into further question – historic properties can focus on tourism/weddings/events/catering/retail etc Financial Support can be tailored (eg Wedding or Outdoor businesses – 50-75% of income needs to come from that to be eligible) – diversification can prevent some organisations from being eligible.

Question: About freelancers – designers/conservators all sorts of freelance workers (ICON producing own survey)  AJ: Aware of the data gap – HES working with Skills Development Scotland to get data in relation to sector skills areas.

Question: What trends have organisations seen in donations/giving trends?

SB: NTS seen 10% drop in monetary value from Membership. But this is viewed as not being able to recruit new members, rather than being over and above usual churn. Need to find value for members with new and different online events. In terms of general donations, people’s generosity has shown that people do care, support what we do. See the value in us.

EnC: National Museums highlighted that their drop was severe and problematic. Many organisations considering how to make new experience content and make it relevant to their audiences.

Question: Working with UK: Much support comes from UK Government and this reflects the difference in available resource. Do we need to be working more closely with the rest of the UK to make the sector’s case to the UK govt?

AJ: Answer is yes. HES part of UK wide group where HE, THA, BEFS, CADW, NI Communities Directorate meet regularly. Focus started with Brexit, then Covid. An open knowledge exchange, sharing opportunities and hear what’s working in terms of  influence. The Heritage Alliance regularly meet with DCMS and put the case  for the sector forward. Fair reflection that strength of that relationship with Westminster is perhaps stronger than we might sometimes have in Scotland.

LC: Parallel alliance of UK museums, similar to built-heritage sector. Story is often not distinct, UK wide advocay is important. New budget money will be from consequentials.

CC: In other parts of UK work with DCMS/DEFRA. In last year, in Scotland, work with Scottish Government and partners. The structures are there, the conversations are happening.

Question: We do good work but are we making our information sharable, in the infographic sense, like Heritage Counts?

AT: All tried individual pieces of work for this. Need to pool our efforts, and work together, to influence and get our evidence in front of elected members.

AL: Sector is collecting data but making it useful remains a challenge. The use of terminology, the lack of understanding are connected to the data question. Tourism always seeks better, more reliable data, but this does need leadership. ASVA/ALVA – STA–  have used data well and linked into STERG taskforce. Need good data leadership, need to feed heritage data into existing organisations.

SB: NTS is now trying to look at the longer term. Commissioning a Social and Economic Impact assessment at property level – they’re working on their own case and insight into the value they bring. Will be willing to share in terms of methodology and results. A fundamental piece of learning. Want to fill gaps, deliver more value, and where are their spatial gaps . Sector could think about this more broadly.

Questions remained – due to time pressures:

  • How to expand greater inclusion in Volunteering. Are there HES plans in this area?
  • Collaborations – and where they can happen?
  • Infrastructure and how to put grant conditions on things like EV charging points etc… Make physical and intellectual changes.
  • Regulator
  • Plans for maintenance – and how to protect assets.
  • How advocacy groups meet and continue these conversations?
  • What about the rest (non-asset) of the sector: How about academia? Skills creation etc have all suffered.

In closing Ian Baxter asked Euan Leitch for final thoughts:

Responses make it clear we’re still in the midst of this.  Are we in the space of thinking the unthinkable? At the OPiT CEO Forum a desire was expressed to have those big, open strategic conversations, but  real space was desired for the discussion where nuance and body-language can be more easily read and expressed. It doesn’t feel like we’re in that space yet.

BEFS want to be able to provide the space for conversation, and dramatic change. The problems are immediate, but we can take the conversation and work on how to move it forward. Previous ideas submitted post the initial series of CHEF meetings were good ideas, but they were not new ideas. It feels like there is new thought out there, and new ideas to be had. We hope to be in that space soon, enabling transparent discussions.

Ian Baxter:  BEFS will commit within CHERF to continuing the conversation, and examining the relationship between tourism and heritage, but there is the wider conversation between the historic environment and communities and people, and skills, and identity. The economics of heritage can be dominated by tourism – but we need to pull those strands out in a nuanced way.

Thanks were given to all across the sector and allied sectors. Appreciating the collaboration that has taken place. We will work towards understanding what the future looks like – both thinkable, and unthinkable.

Comment

I was concerned that whilst the report would be entitled the State of Heritage I would be commenting on the stasis of heritage.

Having been involved with previous CHERF events, and the subsequent reports, I initially wondered if we were understandably rooted in the same conversations about emergency situations and unprecedented times. With further thought and the opportunity to relisten to the astonishing breadth and depth of information shared, I find myself reflecting that the job losses are not stasis, the organisational survival is not stasis; the adaptation, the new ways of working, and the learning; these are not stasis.  The resilience remaining comes at a price. But the proof that change can happen, that adaptation occurs when needed, exists. How we harness this flux towards the positive, rather than as a reaction to the negative will be the ultimate measure. We are living through these changing times (personally and professionally), so may find it hard to notice the more incremental and monumental shifts happening all around us. We’re often too close to gain true perspective.

The call came from all sides for more collaboration, more open working. The offers to share data, information, and skills were freely given. Collective action and collaboration were championed. We were asked how these conversations can continue? How we can form the spaces for strategic thought and find the head-space for radical change?

The good news is, we are – we are doing all these things – as the reports from across the sector bore testament to. These collaborations and partnerships are happening. The adaptations are taking place. We’re making our relevance to the social, economic, cultural and climate agendas known. We’re learning new ways of working, and considering how to make sure these are more equitable, listening to the silences, not just the shouting. We can’t fix every related issue (from rural broadband to societal inequalities) but we know to consider our outcomes within those limitations, and who to ask for help in achieving the best aims for all.

The fact we’re asking for the very things we’re doing suggests an appetite for more rapid change and development. And perhaps we do need to prioritise, to find more time to balance the day-to-day with the strategic, to help increase the velocity of our progress.

The greatest outcomes have involved sharing information, asking for assistance, and working collaboratively and collectively, to share our knowledge, our experience, and our skills – all in the name of emergency measures. Can we now make these actions our business as normal, for the ambition of delivering excellence, rather than surviving emergency.

Ailsa Macfarlane, BEFS Policy & Strategy Manager


All current evidence supplied to the Scottish Parliament Culture, Tourism,  and External Affairs Committee in relation to the Impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s Culture and Tourism Sectors can be found here.

 

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Details of funding for Historic Environment Scotland in the Scottish Government’s draft budget.

This budget summary was prepared as part of the State of Heritage 2021-22 event held on 4 February 2021.

The Scottish Government published its Budget 2021-22 on 28th January with details on the funding of Historic Environment Scotland within the Economy, Fair Work and Culture portfolio.

The total budget forecast for HES in 2021-22 is £91.3 million, a decrease of just under 9% on the previous year’s budget. The budget forecasts an income generation of £44.1m which at this point in time seems ambitious. However, the grant in aid figure of £55.9 million will be augmented by a further £20 million drawn from the allocation of COVID consequentials. With a total grant from Scottish Government of £75.9 million therefore, HES will only need to generate income of £15.3 million to meet the forecast budget for 2021-22. This is a 75% decrease over the previous year’s forecast income.

Arguably the comparison with the previous year’s budget is now moot given the drop in income generated by HES in a year with little tourist activity, albeit augmented by the additional £37.1m the organisation received via Scottish Government mid-year which came from the £97m UK Government consequentials for the culture and heritage sectors.

Unlike previous years, the budget makes no comment on HES role as a grant funder only stating that HES will continue “caring for our heritage and communities, creating local training and employment and supporting the maintenance of traditional craft skills.” The Scottish Government has dispensed around £14.5 million funding annually through HES for more than a decade.

Level 3 2019-20 Budget 2020-21 Budget 2021-22 Budget 
£m£m£m
Operational Costs 93.5 100.1 91.3 
Capital Expenditure 6.0 6.0 6.0 
Less Income (59.7) (63.3) (41.4) 
Total Historic Environment Scotland 39.842.855.9

Below are some further figures from the budget that have implications for the wider built environment and it must be said that, More Homes aside, the budget is a broadly positive outcome given the year past and what looks to be ahead.

Level 3 2019-20 Budget 2020-21 Budget 2021-22 Budget
£m£m£m
Architecture and Place 1.41.41.5
Building Standards 0.92.016.7
Planning 6.58.311.5
Planning and Environmental Appeals 0.70.70.7
More Homes 788.7896.1628.1
Fuel Poverty/Energy Efficiency 119.6137.1145.6
Regeneration 42.347.481.6
Vacant and Derelict Land Grant 11.47.67.6
Creative Scotland and Other Arts 66.067.363.2
Cultural Collections 74.679.275.7
Major Events and Themed Years 16.86.68.2
Culture and Major Events Staffing 4.34.44.7
National Performing Companies 22.922.922.9
National Parks 13.413.917.5
Natural Resources, Peatland and Flooding 4.629.734.1
Scottish Environmental Protection Agency 34.437.143.5
NatureScot 46.549.150.2
Zero Waste 20.516.540.2
Land Reform 15.615.014.9
Scottish Land Commission 1.51.51.5

 

 2020-212021-22
£m£m
City Region and Growth Deals3.811.2
Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company0.50.5
Capital
Capital Land and Works22.022.0
City Region and Growth Deals201.0198.1
Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company5.05.0
Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS)55.058.0
Regeneration Capital Grant Fund25.025.0
Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme5.0
Place, Town Centres and 20 Minute Neighbourhoods23.0

 

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Museums Galleries Scotland, BEFS, and greenspace scotland welcome the 40 organisations who will participate in the 18-month NLHF funded Business Support Programme, ‘Surviving to Thriving’ (StT).

At a time when heritage organisations are facing a multitude of challenges caused by the pandemic StT plays a key role through collaboration across the museums, greenspace, and built environment sector, in supporting organisations to develop their resilience through sustainable business models.  With a focus on upskilling the heritage workforce across Scotland the programme invests in individuals and organisations, through building confidence and knowledge in business practice.

The programme will commence in April with BlueSky Experiences delivering the core training across the four strands of the programme: leadership, governance, business planning and local community engagement. City of Glasgow College will be providing additional skills-based training which will complement the core training. Axiom Consultancy have been appointed as programme evaluators.

Fiona Skiffington, Business Support Project Manager said:

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome the 40 organisations who join us for StT. Now more than ever it is vital to support the heritage workforce and organisations to develop business models and skills. Through the programme we are seeking to directly address the skills gap identified by the sector, and through investment in widespread workforce training we hope to support the sector to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and increase their resilience.”

Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Collaboration is critical in building a successful and resilient heritage sector as we come out of this crisis.  Thanks to players of The National Lottery, this initiative will facilitate cultural, built and natural heritage organisations to come together to develop their business models and support capacity building. We are delighted to be able to help the sector improve sustainability in this way as it has a crucial role to play in supporting Scotland’s economic recovery.”

The programme will be delivered digitally for the time being and will move to face-to-face when possible (as per government guidelines). To enable full participation in StT eligible organisations will be awarded a community grant. Participants on the programme reach right across the heritage sector and the country, yet all are facing similar challenges caused by the pandemic, with many citing the programme as vital for increasing their resilience.

Victoria Collison, Executive Director, Historic Churches Scotland said:

“Historic Churches Scotland is delighted to be selected to participate in the Business Support Programme. Securing the future of these historic buildings is not just about fixing the roof: more than ever, in these challenging times, it requires people with a broad range of skills from business planning to community development.

The programme is unique in providing the training we need for the people who need it, whether they are staff, board members, or volunteers. As an organisation we want to grow and to help more communities use and look after their church building in a sustainable way. The skills we gain from the programme will support not only our own work, but hopefully the work of many other community groups throughout Scotland in the future.”

Alexander Goodger, Museum Manager, Dundee Museum of Transport said:

” The Business Support Programme has appealed to us in particular because our income streams come from our events and ticket sales, income of which was down by 48% last year due to the pandemic. The training on business planning, and community engagement, alongside a community grant will help us to diversify our income streams, trial new ventures and re-connect with audiences locally and nationally for a brighter future.”

Helen Brown, Trust Manager, Water of Leith Conservation Trust said:

“We have many areas of our operation which will benefit from the support offered on the Business Support Programme, as grant support has reduced over the past decade building a sustainable approach to our income streams means we can continue to work with volunteers to conserve and enhance the Water of Leith, operate our Centre and community cafe and deliver our learning programmes. Charities have had to learn to adapt and become resilient to change especially this year, so we are excited to get started on planning a brighter future for our organisation.”

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • Museums Galleries Scotland is the National Development Body for museums and galleries in Scotland and offers strategic development support to the sector. For further information about Museums Galleries Scotland visit www.museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk/about-us/
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Ministers respond to BEFS call to protect cultural heritage post-Brexit.

In mid-December BEFS encouraged its membership to lobby Members of the Scottish Parliament on what we perceived to be an anomaly in the definition of “the environment” within Part 2 of the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) Scotland) Bill. Our proposed amendment was not put forward by any MSPs but Scottish Ministers have responded with their reasoning as to why it was unnecessary.

Thank you to all those that contacted MSPs, it was not in vain as it resulted in better engagement between the Bill team and our colleagues at HES. Scottish Ministers also give a commitment below to ensure that cultural heritage protections are adequately considered by the new body Environmental Standards Scotland – although it is noteworthy that cultural heritage does not appear to be an area of expertise of the chair or members.

Scottish Ministers’ response:

“We do not agree that the definitions of “the environment” in the Continuity Bill should change in the way outlined in your correspondence. The reference given in Schedule 3 of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 is a representative list of issues to be included in the consideration of the potential significant effects of a project or programme. It is not a definition of the environment, and we do not believe that it can be used in the way that is proposed in your suggested amendments to the Continuity Bill.

With respect to the definition of the environment at section 12, we have designed the duties at sections 10(1), 10(2) and 11 of the Continuity Bill for the guiding principles on the environment to apply with respect to the natural environment. This will cover some aspects of cultural environment, but it is not our intention that the guiding principles should apply to the built element of the cultural environment, to architectural and archaeological heritage or to other parts of the built environment. These other considerations will remain valid in the conduct of Strategic Environmental Assessments, as they are at present.

In relation to the definition of the environment at section 40, we do not see the role of Environmental Standards Scotland (“ESS”) extending to ensuring compliance with the law on the historic and cultural environment or with the law on architectural and archaeological heritage. This would be the effect of the expanding the definition of the environment at section 40.

Officials have discussed this issue with colleagues in Historic Environment Scotland (“HES”). ESS functions in the Bill relate to monitoring and compliance with “environmental law” as currently defined in section 39 of the Bill: that is, so far as relevant in the current context, law mainly concerned with “environmental protection”. In terms of section 40(1)(b) “environmental protection” includes preventing, mitigating, minimising or remedying “environmental harm” caused by human activities. “[E]nvironmental harm” includes damage to property and impairment of, or interference with, amenities or other legitimate uses of the environment. We therefore consider that is clear that consideration of the cultural environment will fall under the definition of “environmental harm” at section 40(2).

We consider that when ESS sets out more detail about is functions in its Strategy, as required under section 18 of the Bill, the Strategy should include information about how it will take account of impacts on cultural heritage as a part of its judgments of environmental harm. We will encourage ESS to speak to HES and relevant stakeholders such as the Built Environment Forum as it develops its strategy.”

 

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