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Orkney Islanders Invited To Have Their Say On Managing The World Heritage Site

22 February 2008

Islanders are being invited to have an input into the draft of a new management plan for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

The plan is intended to maximise the economic and social benefits from the world heritage site (WHS) while protecting its environment and ancient monuments.

A public meeting is being held at Stenness Community School on 28, February where members of the community can hear about developments over the last two years like the WHS Ranger Service, conservation projects, and archaeological research.

They will then separate into groups to discuss what they think should be included.

Sabina Strachan, WHS co-ordinator, said: “We hope residents will take this opportunity to have their say on what issues should be addressed over the next five years.

“World heritage site status has already brought many gains, not least by further raising Orkney’s profile as an international visitor destination and the universal importance of its heritage.

“We want the new management plan to build on the strong foundations that have been laid and to set specific and measurable objectives for the future.

“To make sure this happens it is important to hear as many views as possible at an early stage.”

The WHS in managed by Historic Scotland, Orkney Islands Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB. Together they represent many and varied views and interests. But all share the common goal of ensuring a sustainable future for the WHS, its monuments, wildlife and environment. In doing so, they aim to provide opportunities for business, social development, education and research. All four partners have been working together to begin reviewing the existing plan over the past six months.

Current thinking is that the new plan will focus on:
·Protecting the WHS and its setting
·Conserving the site, its monuments and natural heritage and addressing matters like coastal erosion
·Developing high-quality research, education and interpretation
·Improving access for all
·Clarifying the roles of the four partners and resourcing the implementation of the management plan
·Developing opportunities, and encouraging engagement, in ways that account for community interests
·Ensuring that sustainability underpins all aspects of WHS-related work.

None of the above is fixed and there is room for alterations, changes and additions.

Andy Knight, RSPB Scotland’s Orkney reserves manager, said: “The RSPB Brodgar nature reserve is right next to the WHS, so we've had a close working relationship with Historic Scotland and Orkney Archaeological Trust for many years.

“We have also collaborated with Historic Scotland over their management of the grassland at the Ring of Brodgar resulting in an exceptional species-rich meadow which itself has probably contributed to the increased numbers of great yellow bumblebee on the reserve.

“The management plan review represents a great opportunity to further assist and influence natural heritage management within the WHS.” Anyone with an interest in the WHS will have another chance to comment on the draft plan during a formal six-week public consultation period in May to June.

Once this is complete the plan, which will govern the running of the site from 2008-13 will be finalised and published.

Notes for editors
The meeting will take place at Stenness Community School on Thursday, 28 February, at 7pm. Presentations will be made before members of the community are invited to divide into groups to discuss specific issues.
·For public transport, the 5.35pm 1A bus from Kirkwall Travel Centre arrives at Stenness at 6.05pm and the 6.35pm bus from the Stromness Travel Centre arrives at 6.50pm. A full timetable is available from Orkney Coaches (01856 870 555;

·Historic Scotland underlined its commitment to the site by creating the post of WHS co-ordinator. Ms Strachan has been seconded to the post for one year after which it is hoped that a permanent co-ordinator will be recruited.

·The partners are aware that circumstances change and will ensure that the plan is evaluated annually and updated if necessary. Monitoring reports will also be published so the public can follow progress.

·Since 1999 there have been a variety of advances in the WHS, such as the establishment of the new ranger service plus a variety of conservation measures and improvements for visitors at monuments such as Maeshowe and Skara Brae.

For further information

Matthew Shelley
Historic Scotland
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8734