More news from Scotland

Posted on September 6th, 2011 by Charles Boot

Please note our new Scotland office telephone number: 07760 893 954

As many members are now aware the conservation office in Scotland has undergone some radical changes over the past few months. During 2010 and ongoing discussions with Historic Scotland (HS), it became clear they were no longer able to fund the project which we had been undertaking over the past three years, assisting with the protection and conservation of gardens and designed landscapes not included in the Inventory. They were however prepared to support and help expand our volunteer recording project for twelve months until April 2012. A lower level of grant than previously received was duly confirmed in February, leading to a cut in conservation officer hours of one-third and the closure of the Edinburgh office. As no alternative source of funding has been identified so far for conservation casework in Scotland, this effectively ceased on 31 March this year, despite continuing consultations and requests for advice. Our work for the Forestry Commission remains unchanged.

Support and development of the recording groups thus continues; a very successful day was held at Broich, Stirlingshire in May to introduce more members to the project and we are very grateful to Sir Peter and Lady Hutchison for allowing us to take over their home and garden for the day. On 9 September we are holding an initial training day for an East Lothian group. This will take place at the Town House, Haddington, and nearby Amisfield; please contact the conservation officer if you would like further details of this event or group.

Interest has also been expressed by members in Central Scotland in establishing a group there, which will probably broadly cover Stirlingshire, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk. Again please contact the conservation officer for further details if you would like to be involved in this, or any other area.

Changes for dealing with gardens and designed landscapes have also been taking place at HS with this function now split between the new ‘Policy & Outreach’, and ‘Heritage Management’ Divisions. With the gradual enactment of the Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill throughout 2011 re-survey and updating the Inventory is being undertaken by HS, particularly in the Scottish Borders, parts of Aberdeenshire, and Morayshire. These changes are now included on the re-vamped gardens and designed landscapes section of the HS website.

The future for conservation in Scotland, in its broadest sense, remains uncertain, just as it now also appears to be in the rest of the UK. For GHSS the only realistic way forward is to ask you, the members, to assist with this role. With appropriate training and support, the membership and recording groups could take on much of the monitoring of planning applications, identification of potential threats, and compiling of advice and responses to the planning authorities. This would prove a very effective way forward for the Society’s conservation role in Scotland.

Lastly I should just like to thank members for all their support with the Gardening Scotland Exhibition at Ingliston in June. With the help of your donations, contributions to the display, setting up and looking after the stand for three days, we won our first medal, a Bronze at the event! Thank you all.

Alison Allighan

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