The Section 17 heritage agreement has been signed in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland (HES). The first-of-a-kind collaboration means that a significant amount of works carried out to maintain and preserve Scotland’s 200-year-old canals will now fall under a pre-agreed list of works under Section 17 of the Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Areas Act 1979.
The streamlining of the process will allow Scottish Canals to focus on more complex pieces of work in partnership with HES, and will see time previously spent on multiple Scheduled Monument Consent applications directed to other projects.
“The signing of the Section 17 Agreement is a positive outcome following a number of years work from both Scottish Canals and HES,” said Scottish Canals chief executive Catherine Topley. “The result is an excellent example of collaboration and partnership working which will continue to shine a light on all that both organisations do to protect and safeguard Scotland’s canals.
“The streamlining of the process will allow Scottish Canals to continue to focus on the assets which need essential restorative work, while allowing resources to be channelled into other projects, allowing us to effectively work towards our wider business goals.”
Barbara Cummins, director of heritage at HES, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Scottish Canals to produce this agreement which acts in a similar manner to a pre-agreed Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC). This will enable Scottish Canals to carry out essential work without applying for a new SMC each time, saving time and resource.
“This collaboration highlights the importance of partnership working to protect and manage our historic environment, and we hope that it will enhance the benefit of these features of our industrial past for the many people who use, live on, work on or beside, and enjoy the canals.”
Chris O’Connell Scottish Canals heritage manager, said: “The agreement is a recognition of Scottish Canals and Historic Environment Scotland’s commitment to the nation’s heritage, and will enhance the operation and maintenance of Scotland’s Historic Canals.”
An example of ongoing works that will now fall under the newly signed Section 17 Agreement is the replacement of the lock gates on the Caledonian Canal. The gates are over 30 years old and are considered a priority for replacement, based on their age, condition and risk.
The Heritage Directorate currently has a Section 17 Agreement with the HES Conservation Directorate but the signing of the agreement is the first in Scotland to see an external organisation granted these permissions.