Council Won’t Be Prosecuted For Criminal Damage To Monument

salakee down monumentA Scheduled Monument dating from the Bronze Age has been damaged during the recent building work at the airport.

But the body responsible for protecting these sites says they won’t pursue a criminal prosecution against the Council because it’s not in the public interest.

Nick Russell, the officer investigating for English Heritage, says instead they’ll ask the Authority to come up with a plan to mitigate the effects on the platform cairn, which lies at the end of the main runway at Salakee Down

Nick says they would normally send out an archaeologist to write a report but the cost in this case was too high. Instead, they’ve relied on drawings and photos.

He says he’s “fairly certain” there’s been damage because the cairn is a surface feature and a trench has been placed around the edge of the runway.

“That will have gone down into the archaeology,” he says.

The Council has confirmed that they didn’t report the damage to English Heritage.

Sites such as these are protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, which states that unauthorised work or damage is a criminal act.

The Council says they didn’t undertake an archaeological survey before the work started because they didn’t go through the usual planning process for the airport, using ‘Permitted Development Rights’ instead.

Nick says English Heritage’s advice provided in the pre-application process two years ago also appears to have been “missed.”

But while the damage is “frustrating,” he says it’s quite clearly a mistake and not intentional.

In this case, there’s no option to restore the site, because the works have been carried out for a reason and can’t easily be reversed.

Pursuing a case against the Council would be costly and time consuming and there wouldn’t really be anything to gain, says Nick, adding that it wouldn’t be good for a Local Authority to be prosecuted for not doing their job properly.

Instead, he wants the Council to record the damage and come up with a plan to mitigate what’s already been done.

The Council says they will follow any recommendations made by English Heritage.

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