Clarification on recent World Heritage Site coverage

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We have been made aware of a number of inaccuracies that have been presented both on trailers for the BBC Inside Out programme and on BBC Online.  We have reported these inaccuracies to the BBC and changes have now been made to their website.  Julian German, Chairman of the Partnership Board for the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site (CMWHS), said:

With regard to the UNESCO and South Crofty mine situation, the Cornish Mining WHS Partnership considered the UNESCO World Heritage Centre State of Conservation Report in June and noted errors and omissions which in their view rendered many of the report recommendations unsound. As the body which delivers the UK Government's obligation for drafting and implementation of a Management Plan for the Site, the Partnership advised the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of their concerns and asked that they be relayed to the World Heritage Centre prior to the Committee meeting later in June.

The role of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and its associated Partnership is to act as a co-ordinating body that brings together the various managing interests in the Cornwall and West Devon Site. Our principle responsibility is to bring forward a Management Plan for the Site and monitor delivery of the agreed policies therein. However we do not own or operate any of the WHS and we have no actual powers over land management or planning decisions that are made.   Planning powers on matters such as these are exercised by the individual local planning authorities, which in the case of South Crofty is Cornwall Council.

The Partnership is particularly concerned about the apparent disregard of our agreed policy on the resumption of mining. The Management Plan submitted at the time of our Site’s nomination referred to proposals for the resumption of mining, but the report omitted any references to the policy, accepted by the World Heritage Committee on inscription of the Cornish Mining WHS;

“proposals for the resumption of mining will be supported where they do not adversely affect the outstanding universal value of the Site”. 

With regard to reporting to UNESCO, English Heritage are the statutory consultee for World Heritage Sites and report to the DCMS, who in turn report to UNESCO - the same process as is followed for all other UK World Heritage Sites.  UNESCO were advised of the proposals to resume mining at South Crofty in June 2008, and in May 2010, following extensive consultations with Western United Mines, English Heritage confirmed that the plans did not harm the CMWHS and that they would inform UNESCO’s World Heritage centre, via the DCMS, to this effect.  The CMWHS Partnership had no reason to believe this had not been done.

To help clarify the situation, the facts are as follows:

May 2008 – pre application notification sent to DCMS. They then wrote to UNESCO WH Centre advising of early discussions 
2009/10 – pre application discussions held with developer by Cornwall Council Historic Environment Service and English Heritage, addressing WHS protection  
May 2010 – English Heritage confirm revised proposals acceptable and not harmful to WHS, and that they will advise DCMS/UNESCO of this

We would echo the recent statement on this matter from English Heritage which says, “We welcome UNESCO’s recommendation for a further State of Conservation report to be submitted to the World Heritage Committee meeting in summer 2013 and English Heritage will continue to advise all relevant parties to ensure UNESCO has a more thorough, better informed view of the planning proposal.”

The CMWHS Partnership has therefore no reason to support UNESCO's call for the development at South Crofty to be halted.  We will continue to represent our agreed WHS Management Plan policy on this issue, and are extremely hopeful for a positive outcome for all involved in this process. 

For all media: It is our understanding that English Heritage is also releasing a statement on this matter.  Please also refer to this statement for further detail on the matter.  Thank you.