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20 May 2014
New project aims to protect Orcadian monuments

The impact of renewable energy projects on the world-famous Skara Brae monuments in Orkney (Scotland) is being researched as part of a new management plan aimed at protecting the site.
     Along with the domestic settlement at Skara Brae, the chambered tomb at Maeshowe, the Stones of Stenness circle and henge, and the Ring of Brodgar - a great stone circle, 130 metres across - are now collectively known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney (HONO) and represent one of the richest surviving Neolithic landscapes in western Europe; since 1999 they have been an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.
     Representatives from Historic Scotland, Orkney Island Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have now launched the Heart of Neolithic Orkney Management Plan 2014-19, which sets out how they aim to protect, conserve, and enhance the site.
     Part of the plan states: "An emerging issue of concern for the cultural heritage sector is the impact of climate change on the management of the archaeological resource. HONO WHS is at significant risk from a variety of climate-related factors including: increases in storminess and sea level rise and consequent increases in coastal erosion; torrential rain and flooding; changes to wetting and drying cycles; changes to the water table; and changes to flora and fauna. The growth of renewable energy also has the potential to impact on the setting of the monument."
     In welcoming the launch of the new plan, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said: "The successful management of the site has depended on the close working relationship between the Partners, who have drawn on the experience, as well as consulting with stakeholders and members of the public, to produce this new, improved Management Plan." Gavin Barr, Orkney Islands Council's Executive Director of Development and Infrastructure said: Orkney's heritage plays an important role in life on the Islands today, by providing cultural, spiritual, economic and educational benefits.

Edited from The Scotsman (25 April 2014)

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