|25 July 2003
Northern Ireland's heritage treasures lost through list omissions
Northern Ireland’s Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) has been criticized for failing to publish an up-to-date inventory of Northern Ireland’s archaeological sites that can be used to protect the country’s prehistoric heritage.
In a letter to the Belfast Telegraph, Frederick Carroll of Enniskillen, Fermanagh (Northern Ireland) accuses the Service’s Sites and Monuments Record, a list of all known archaeological sites in Northern Ireland, of being “inaccurate and even more so than the architectural list”.
EHS has come under recent criticism from the World Wide Fund for Nature, Friends of the Earth, the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, the European Commission, and the Northern Ireland Audit Office, who cited “deficiencies” and “poor management practices”. In particular the EHS has been cited for its lack of action concerning Northern Ireland’s fast-vanishing historical buildings. EHS has claimed that the reason for its inaction is due to its “inaccurate” three-decades-long architectural survey, which now must be redone.
Its Sites and Monument Record (SMR) was a costly project started in 1975 and can be found on the Internet at www.ehsni.gov.uk. Carroll claims the inaccuracy of the SMR can be shown with the listing of a “little-known type of prehistorical monument called a burnt mound”, which dates back to about 2,000 to 4,500 years ago. According to Carroll, the SMR fails to list 640 burnt mounds, about 98% of all those that have been recorded in Northern Ireland since 1993.
Carroll states, “Developers, before beginning work, are obliged to consult ‘development hazard maps’ that should be provided by EHS on the basis of the SMR. As a direct result of the failures of the service, developers have unwittingly bulldozed a tragically growing number of burnt mounds into oblivion.”
Carroll concludes his letter by asking “How much longer do we have to condemn the irreversible losses of our heritage treasures because of EHS failures before we simply replace the Environment and Heritage Service with a body that is worthy of the name?”
Source: Belfast Telegraph (22 July 2003)
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