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Orkney Residents Thanked For World Heritage Site

29 February 2008

Orkney residents have been thanked for their help in developing the new world heritage site management plan. Some 40 people attended a public meeting at Stenness Community School on the evening of 28, February. Presentations were made about the work that has taken place so far in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site and on developing the new management plan for 2008-13.

People then formed three workshop groups to discuss key issues and put forward their own ideas.

Sabina Strachan, Historic Scotland’s WHS co-ordinator, said: “I would like to thank everyone who came to the meeting.

“They clearly cared a great deal and were very enthusiastic about the future of the world heritage site.

“It exists not just to protect Orkney’s fabulous archaeological heritage, but to provide economic, social and educational opportunities for all.

“That makes it all the more important that as many voices as possible are heard before the draft plan is finalised and put out to public consultation.”

Issues raised included a desire for more direct dialogue between the partners running the WHS and the community. In response Historic Scotland now hopes to hold a further public meeting during the public consultation period. There were also calls to ensure that all information about the site is widely available and produced in clear, straightforward language.

The WHS is managed by Historic Scotland, Orkney Islands Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB – representing many different groups and interests.

All four partners have been working together to review the existing plan over the past six months.

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 will be finalised and published.

Historic Scotland would also like to thank Harvey Johnston of Orkney College for volunteering to chair the meeting and ensuring that the evening ran smoothly.

Notes for editors
·World heritage site status has brought many gains by further raising Orkney’s profile as an international visitor destination and the universal importance of its heritage.

·Historic Scotland has 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 new management plan will set specific and measurable objectives for the future. 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.

·Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding properties in its care, including some of the country’s leading visitor attractions - Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace and Skara Brae. Seventy five of these visitor attractions are admission based and 270 are free entry. Visitor numbers can only be monitored at staffed sites.

For further information

Matthew Shelley
Historic Scotland
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8734