A full inventory of Britain's heritage would
need to range far and wide to capture different groups' and communities'
views on what should be saved for the future. Organisations who
classify the UK's heritage have identified and quantified some
of the main risks to and pressures on the UK's heritage today,
and their conclusions should inform all heritage sector activity.
In the UK there are around:
450,000 listed buildings, 10,000
conservation areas and 25 World Heritage Sites;
1,200 designated ships and over 7,000
historic locomotives and items of rolling stock;
60 preserved railways and 3,200 kilometres
of canals and inland waterways;
around 2,500 parks of historic value;
3,500 historic cemeteries, of which
only 114 are registered;
21% of buildings pre-date 1919; less
than 5% of the UK building stock is listed;
391 species and 45 habitats with
biodiversity action plans;
over 4,000 Sites of Special Scientific
Interest in England, over half of which (by area) are internationally
41 AONBs in England and Wales; 9
AONBS in Northern Ireland and 40 National Scenic Areas in Scotland;
14 national parks in the UK;
2,500 registered museums that look
after 170 million objects;
2,000 archives and 12,000 libraries;
assets such as language or oral history
which can never be quantified, but are a vital part of our heritage.
Around 20,000 listed buildings across
the UK are "at risk".
One in 10 parish churches has been
closed since 1969.
38% of habitats and 25% of species
are in decline; nearly half of all SSSIs in England are in unfavourable
20% of our most important large historic
ships are at risk.
Nearly half of all rural vernacular
buildings in Northern Ireland have been lost since 1909.
Nearly half of our historic parkland
has disappeared in the last 75 years, and in some areas it is
as much as 70%. Golf developments, the break-up of country estates
and changing patterns of agriculture have all contributed to this
One in 10 archives in England is
in a building that is not fit for purpose.
One archaeological site of interest
been lost every day since 1945 in England alone.
The National Trust has identified
around 500 archaeological sites, 38 parks and gardens and 600km
of coastline in their ownership that will be vulnerable to sea
There are still 800km of derelict
The largest producer of waste in
the UK is demolition and construction which produces 24% of the
annual 434 million tonnes.
For every inhabitant in the UK, six
tonnes of building materials are used every year.
It takes the energy equivalent of
a gallon of petrol to manufacture six bricks. The embodied energy
in the bricks of a typical Victorian terraced house would drive
a car more than ten times around the world. Reusing historic buildings
can significantly reduce energy consumption.
There are few incentives to maintain
heritage; lower VAT on new construction means that it can be cheaper
to build a new building than repair an old one.
Local authority park maintenance
budgets have fallen by 20% since 1980.
Half of historic buses are kept in
the open air; without covered storage, buses, planes, boats and
trains deteriorate rapidly.
Traditional local materials such
as stone or iron are increasingly difficult to source.
Many historic cemeteries are havens
for wildlife, and are important to local communities, yet their
management does not take full account of their heritage values.
The craft skills needed to care for
our heritage are important not just to the heritage but to the
economy as a whole. Nearly half of the UK's £56 billion construction
industry involves the repair and refurbishment of existing buildings
Fewer than 40,000 people are skilled
in traditional crafts, yet on current trends the contribution
of crafts to the rural economy could exceed that of farming within
An estimated 6,590 additional skilled
craftspeople are needed to meet shortages in the built heritage
There is a shortage of building craftspeople
between 30 and 45.
Archaeologists estimate that less
than 5% of the historic environment is recorded and 60% of heritage
records do not meet benchmark standards.
Biologists lack data about around
a third of species.
The Sensory Trust found that after
physical access difficulties, lack of information was the most
important barrier to people visiting green spaces. A MORI survey
(2003) commissioned by English Heritage found that people from
ethnic minorities in particular felt that `more information' would
encourage them to visit historic sites more often.
Around 157,000 people give their
time to over 100 voluntary bodies in England, contributing around
£25 million in unpaid work to the historic environment.
Without volunteers there would be
almost no functioning preserved railways or historic canals; voluntary
transport groups have over 12,000 members.
None of the 1,000 plus wildlife and
countryside projects organised by the BCTV, the National Trust
or the Wildlife Trusts would take place without volunteers.
More churches and places of worship
would remain locked without at least 6,280 volunteers who maintain
buildings, welcome visitors, and provide access and security;
this does not include the many thousands of others who are legally
responsible for parish church buildings and yet remain unpaid.
Without volunteers we would know
little about garden history, industrial archaeology or the archaeology
of the Second World Warall subjects that originated through
the efforts of committed volunteers.
Around 50 buildings a year would
be lost without the efforts of voluntary buildings preservation
trusts; more would be lost without the Civic Trusts and amenity
groups who act as guardians of the heritage.
Most historic attractions would closearound
two-thirds of all staff are volunteers and the National Trust
would need to find £1.175 million a year to pay for the work
currently done by volunteers.
The only source of core-funding for
voluntary heritage organisations in England is heavily over-subscribed.
The voluntary sector is ageing52%
of the National Trust's volunteers are over 65 while 4% are under
98% of people think that heritage
is an important means of teaching children about the past, and
the public sees spending on education as a high priority for heritage
The Attingham Trust surveyed 400
historic sites; half spent less than £1,000 a year on educational
Only 15 local record offices out
of 121 in England and Wales employ an education officer.
Teachers value hands-on access to
collections but almost 2,000 schools in England still do not have
opportunities to take part in education programmes in museums
Over a third of people surveyed by
MORI said reduced costs, better transport, more information, parking
facilities, and better facilities for children would encourage
them to visit historic sites more frequently.
72% of people say that more should
be done to recognise the contribution of different communities
to our heritage.
Less than 1% of archaeological organisations
are Black or Asian; the parks workforce is predominantly white
men over the age of 40; the successful Museums Association Diversify
programme can only offer six placements each year.
Addressing all of these issues costs money:
£5.6 billion needs to be found
from public and private sources to bring Buildings at Risk back
£1.2 billion would be needed
to meet the backlog of work and ongoing repairs needs of 12,200
listed Anglican places of worship in England; this does not include
the needs of places of worship of other Christian denominations
and other faiths.
Around £3 billion is needed
to regenerate our historic parks.
£10 million would create digital
access to archives across the country
Canals and inland waterways need
around £700 million to repair them.
£1.05 billion is needed to bring
historic cemeteries into good condition.
In one English region alone (the
North East), the regional agency identified a need for £40
million to expand museum, library and archive storage and modernise
These figures do not include any costs for attracting
new audiences to the heritage, involving more people, nor the
increased costs associated with climate change.