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1 January 2004
Politicians accused of ignoring Guernsey’s archaeology sites

Politicians have been accused of virtually ignoring Guernsey’s (British Channel Islands) world-important archaeology sites. Jason Monaghan, of La Societe Guernesiaise’s archaeology section, said that mechanisms to check and protect sites were not in place and States resources on the areas were lacking.
     Projects have taken place without an environmental impact assessment, which could identify important archaeological remnants. Mr Monaghan said that the States was one of the worst culprits. "The ancient monument law dates back to the late 1960s and the procedures are pre-1980s. The key problem is that Guernsey’s big-hitting politicians have not been interested."
     He described the Heritage Committee’s budget as very small and was worried that when the department was split for the new-look States, archaeological interests would be missed. "For a small place, there is a massive amount of archaeology. There are Nazi sites, dolmens, about 800 shipwrecks and hundreds of smaller sites," he said. "Guernsey has got a lot of world-class sites, like the Roman ship and the Dehus dolmen. It’s important in global terms.’"
     Mr Monaghan said the problem was chiefly about resources and the authority to intervene when sites were threatened. There are fewer than two-dozen people looking after Guernsey’s archaeology, mostly volunteers, with one person employed full-time by the Heritage Committee. "The museum and collections are the focus and field archaeology is seen as extra," he said. In UK, archaeology funding is split roughly 50/50 between the government and developers. This was not available locally. "Specialists don’t exist here and the mechanisms to pay them don’t exist. Those who are qualified either move to the UK" added Monaghan.

Source: This is Guernsey (29 December 2003)

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