John Griffiths, Minister for Culture and Sport
The future of our past: A consultation on proposals for the historic environment of Wales, was published on 18 July 2013 and the 12-week consultation period ended on 11 October 2013. Today, I am publishing a summary report on the consultation responses, and I attach a copy for the information of Assembly Members. The report will be published alongside the responses on the consultation page of the Welsh Government’s website later today.
There was an excellent response to the consultation, with 177 written responses received. Many contained detailed and insightful comments that clearly reflect the importance of the historic environment to the people of Wales. In addition, a number of events were held with young people and key stakeholders. Four consultation events for sixth-form Welsh Baccalaureate students were held and 187 pupils from eight schools in north and south Wales took part. The young people were encouraged to consider the importance of the historic environment and to engage with some of the central issues relating to its sustainable management through activity-based exercises. Two workshops were also held with key stakeholders during the consultation period. One looked in more detail at the future of the third sector in Wales, while the other considered the proposals for the future of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and Cadw. Presentations and discussions were also held at key planning fora.
The consultation document, which was informed by the extensive engagement undertaken in 2012, included a wide range of proposals for the historic environment. The consultation results, along with further research and policy development work, are being used to identify the most appropriate means to deliver those proposals. In some instances, changes to legislation will be needed, while, in others, guidance and other policy interventions will be more appropriate.
In most cases, the consultation confirmed our approach to delivering a well-protected and accessible historic environment, and many commented that the proposals will have a positive impact on its sustainable management well into the future. It is also clear from the responses that, for many, the improved guidance that is being developed to support the sustainable management of the historic environment will be as important as the proposed changes to legislation.
The most contentious proposals in the consultation document were those relating to the most effective way of delivering historic environment services at the national level and the future of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monument of Wales and Cadw. There was no clear consensus. I shall be making a statement in plenary tomorrow, 14 January 2014, on a way forward.
I look forward to developing the proposals contained in the consultation document over the next year, prior to introducing legislation on the historic environment to the National Assembly in 2015.