The UK is a signatory to the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (revised) 1992. The aim of the Convention is to protect the archaeological heritage as a source of the European collective memory and as an instrument for historical and scientific study, whether on land or underwater.
In order to meet this commitment and to provide for the conservation and enhancement of significant marine heritage assets, Historic England is seeking to procure, within a single contract, assessment functions to support marine protection and management for the two-year period April 2019 to March 2021 (inclusive).
Effective marine protection advice is reliant on the provision of field observations to underpin the core functions of protection and management of, and access to, the marine historic environment in order to realise wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits. Both the UK Marine Policy Statement (2011) and the National Planning Policy Framework (2012) recognise the need to protect and manage marine cultural heritage in a manner appropriate to its significance.
Notably, the National Heritage Act 2002 redefined an ‘ancient monument’ to include any site comprising, or comprising the remains of, any vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other movable structure, or part thereof, in, on or under the seabed.
The project will address those sites and assets most at risk through neglect, decay or other threats within UK territorial waters adjacent to England.
A wider context for the project is provided by the Rules annexed to the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. These Rules have been adopted by HMG as being ‘best practice’ for marine archaeology and, as such, frame Historic England’s approach to the subject.