Historic Environment Scotland Sites (Reopening)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 10 January 2024.

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Photo of Alexander Burnett Alexander Burnett Conservative

8. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the reopening of Historic Environment Scotland sites following the completion of work to make them safe for the public, including when the remaining sites will reopen. (S6O-02933)

Photo of Christina McKelvie Christina McKelvie Scottish National Party

I am pleased to say that Historic Environment Scotland’s inspection programme concludes at the end of March 2024. Once it is completed, Historic Environment Scotland will have a clearer indication of the scale of the challenge and of the resources that will be required to carry out conservation works.

There is now full or partial access at 53 of the 70 sites where access was restricted because of high-level masonry issues. I am pleased that Historic Environment Scotland continues to put the health and safety of individuals first and is reopening sites only when it is safe to do so.

Details of the inspection programme and site reopenings are published on the Historic Environment Scotland website.

Photo of Alexander Burnett Alexander Burnett Conservative

In my constituency, Corgarff castle, which played an important role in the Jacobite risings, closed at the height of summer last year because of staffing issues. According to Historic Environment Scotland, the issue affected a number of sites, especially sites in rural areas. The cabinet secretary asked earlier for examples that he would support. Can the minister guarantee that sites such as Corgarff castle and others in rural areas will not be affected by that issue this summer?

Photo of Christina McKelvie Christina McKelvie Scottish National Party

I take into account the issue that Alexander Burnett has raised about the staffing of sites, particularly in his area. I have to say that Brexit is the biggest driver of the lack of staff in rural areas. We should take that into account.

On the reopening of facilities and historic properties, Historic Environment Scotland publishes all the updates on its website. The information can be easily found by anyone, but I would be happy to make sure that Historic Environment Scotland updates Alexander Burnett on the issues that affect his particular case.

On a number of occasions, Historic Environment Scotland has offered to take individual members on visits to sites to talk through some of the issues, and I urge Alexander Burnett to take up that offer.