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Farmers Call For Help To Protect Historic Sites

Farmers today pledged to work with English Heritage to investigate how more effective protection can be given to ancient sites buried beneath farmland in Britain.

It follows campaigning by the government's own agency for greater financial support to be given to farmers working land that covers scheduled monuments, in line with changes to the Common Agriculture Policy.

Farmers are currently legally permitted to plough such sites already in cultivation.

NFU environment chairman John Seymour said: "We recognise with English Heritage that changes to farming policy at home and in Europe provide a useful opportunity to revisit this issue. But we need to ensure that changes bring benefits for farmers and our heritage. We need to use language that encourages rather than undermines partnership."

The NFU also used the opportunity to call on Defra, and Tessa Jowell's Department for Culture, Media and Sport to work with local authorities and archaeologists to ensure farmers are told about the location and importance of remains.

John Seymour added: "In the majority of cases, damage that has been caused to these sites has been the result of farmers not being informed about the sites rather than as a result of any malicious intent.

"Ploughing itself has uncovered many sites that were previously unknown, and farmers have volunteered the information to local archaeologists. We hope that the many farmers who already work with English Heritage to chart and protect these finds continue to do so."

Road building, housing developments and service providers also pose a considerable threat to the country's scheduled monuments.


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