This article appeared in the Summer 1977 (Issue #48) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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New Legislation Proposed to Protect Ancient Monuments.
Proposals for revising the Ancient Monuments Acts to widen their scope and give greater protection to monuments and archaeological remains are made in a consultation document issued by the Secretaries of State for the Environment, for Scotland and for Wales. No forecast can at present be made when it will be possible to introduce the proposed legislation since that will depend on the availability of Parliamentary time.
The Ancient Monuments Acts, the principal one being the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act 1913, provide a framework for the protection and preservation of ancient monuments, but they urgently need to be modernised to meet new situations and current legislative and administrative practice.The main changes proposed by the Government are:
To replace the present obligation upon owners and occupiers of ancient monuments of giving three months notice of work affecting an ancient monument by a requirement to obtain consent -- similar to listed building consent for buildings of special architectural and historic interest listed under the Planning Acts.
To give the Secretary of State and local authorities power to acquire ancient monuments compulsorily for their protection, and to acquire land, (either by agreement or compulsorily) to provide access or to help with the management of a monument.
To enable the Secretary of State and local authorities to designate areas of archaeological importance to give opportunities for archaeological investigations before sites are developed or redeveloped.
To strengthen generally the law relating to the protection of ancient monuments and their accessibility to the public. New provisions relating to damage to monuments would replace the present maximum penalty of £20 by an unlimited penalty on indictment.
Another proposal widens the definition of "ancient monument" to cover sites identifiable in aerial photographs and vehicles, ships, or their remains which are permanently on a site.
Copies of the document are being sent to organisations with land-owning and land use interests and those committed to the protection of the nation's heritage, and also to Government departments and agencies and statutory authorities. Comments are called for by 22 April 1977.