Environmental Improvements

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Rural Affairs and the Environment – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 28 June 2007.

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Photo of Cathie Craigie Cathie Craigie Labour 2:15, 28 June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what measures to improve the local environment it recommends for locations where there is a historical interest. (S3O-409)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

Initiatives to improve the local environment are generally for local authorities to pursue. If the historic environment is affected, then Historic Scotland might become involved in associated casework on behalf of Scottish ministers.

Photo of Cathie Craigie Cathie Craigie Labour

The minister might be aware that part of the Antonine wall is located at Croy hill in my constituency. The Croy Miners Charitable Society has worked hard over the years on behalf of the local community to improve the environment around the wall for the local community and visitors. Some small disused quarries encourage illegal dumping and pose a danger to children and visitors. The Croy Miners Charitable Society wants to further improve the environment in the area, but without encroaching in any way on the Antonine wall. It feels that Historic Scotland is being less than helpful in its endeavours.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Can we have a question, please?

Photo of Cathie Craigie Cathie Craigie Labour

Will the minister encourage a better working relationship with Historic Scotland? I encourage that from a local level.

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I am sorry to hear of that experience of Historic Scotland, which works closely with the Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture. That is an operational matter for Historic Scotland. I am aware that the member has written about the case to Historic Scotland's chief executive, but I am sure that her comments today will be drawn to his and the relevant minister's attention.

The land in question belongs to the Forestry Commission Scotland. Historic Scotland is involved in discussions with Forest Enterprise and others about improving the amenity and landscape of that land. Historic Scotland recently received a general inquiry from Croy community council about infilling the quarries and has offered to meet the interested parties to discuss that. It might reassure the member to know that although the case she refers to is important to the community, the wider issue of the bid for world heritage status for the Antonine wall will not be affected by it. The professional advice is that the problem is not significant enough to affect the bid.

National planning guidelines on archaeology are in place and must be observed. We must also ensure that local plans, development plans and policies are adequate to cope with circumstances such as the one that the member mentions. The policy in the Kilsyth local plan from 1999 states:

"The Council will oppose any development which would adversely affect or threaten a Scheduled Ancient Monument or its setting, in particular in the vicinity of the Antonine Wall."

There is a commitment from the agencies, including Historic Scotland and Forest Enterprise and from ministers, to ensure that we get the matter right. I hope that that reassures the member, but I know that Historic Scotland will have heard the question and, I presume, will be in touch with her again as a result.