We are grateful to a reader for alerting The Orkney News to the fact that we had not provided an update on this : How do Orcadians View The Heart of Neolithic Orkney? published on June 14 2020, which was a consultation by Historic Environment Scotland. This consultation was to help inform a future Management Plan for the sites covered: Skara Brae, The Ring of Brodgar, The Standing Stones of Stenness and Maeshowe Neolithic Tomb.
Since then there have been other consultations all on the same sort of theme: “The Orkney Gateway Programme, led by Historic Environment Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, was aimed at providing a more in depth experience for visitors and locals alike across the WHS and generate opportunities for local people through a more responsible and sustainable approach to tourism.”
“The Orkney Gateway Programme proposals include measures such as improved signage, technology to monitor visitor numbers in real time and ‘apps’ to suggest alternative attractions, ‘active travel’ routes, e-bike chargers and welcome facilities, alongside coach permits and charging at some car parks to help disperse tourism sustainably around the WHS and across Orkney and generate income towards conservation and management of the WHS.
“Two of the key aims of the Programme are to foster a sense of ownership and connection to the landscape and monuments and to ensure their preservation for future generations.” OIC
Visitors to the sites will have noticed that some changes have been made. HES also had a further public survey this year, 2022, on their stall at the West Mainland and County Shows. It was asking for reactions to the changes which had been made, what you thought of them, and what improvements could be made to the sites.
When the public is consulted and in good faith give their views, it is often difficult to determine if any action was ever taken.
And there is funding involved because The Orkney Gateway programme had joint investment of up to £6.5 million:- from the Scottish Government £5.5million and the UK Government £1million. It was part of the Islands Growth Deal.
The out of date Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site Management Plan 2014 – 2019 is on the HES website. There is this: The Community View: Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site which is the report we published in 2020.
And there is another consultation currently taking views which closes on 30th November 2022: HES Responsible Tourism Framework which is of vital importance in Orkney if we are still to be able to enjoy our visits to Orkney’s wonderful sites, including those designated in The UNESCO World Heritage site.
Click on this link to the UNESCO website information on the Heart of Neolithic Orkney
Now to return to our reader’s enquiry about what has happened since the consultation: there have been changes to signage; an app so you can listen to stories and more information; improved parking at the Standing Stones of Stenness; gates put up at the Ring of Brodgar closing the inner ring off for most of the time; and improved parking at Skara Brae. I couldn’t find an updated Management Plan which the consultation was to inform. There have been further consultations including one which is still active. It should also be noted that we are now into our third year of the Covid pandemic and that has affected ongoing work as sites were closed for most of 2020. When the new Management Plan is made public we will publish it in The Orkney News and if we miss it please let us know.
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