One archaeological blogger who’s vehemently opposed to an eminently sensible piece of planned UK legislation, is predictably apoplectic judging from his panic-stricken banner headline plastered across his dire and ‘silly’ blog:-
“Sign this Petition to Stop Destruction Of British Archaeology” he yelps.
The truth of course is that ‘British Archaeology’ is far from facing extinction (more’s the pity, some might say). In his now familiar, tedious, teenage over-the-top style, the Prophet of Doom forecasts all manner of dreadful things facing the UK’s army of diggers should the proposed Bill become law; it can only be a matter of time before he announces plagues of locusts, and death of all the firstborn. He urges people to sign an on-line Petition in protest:-
“The current requirements that force developers to carry out archaeological and wildlife surveys before starting housing projects are to be abolished in the new Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill.”
The On-line Petition however reads: Stop Destruction Of British Archaeology. Neighbourhood and Infrastructure Bill. But there’s a problem; the Neighbourhood and Infrastructure Bill doesn’t exist. However the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill does.
Nevertheless, if the Prophet of Doom’s claims are correct that the proposed Bill will seriously clip archaeology’s wings, then this is indeed, excellent and exciting news. At last, here’s a potential victory on the horizon for those in the collecting/detecting/treasure hunting fraternities who have for years maintained that archaeologists have had their size twelves wedged in legislators’ and developer’s doors forcing them to subsidise archaeological surveys, excavations, and jobs.
With UK archaeological units having morphed into private, for-profit businesses (er, making money out of the heritage) many people now believe that archaeology is little more than a lucky dip; not so much for the sparse data they uncover, or the excavation reports that regularly fail to appear, but for the big money rewards forcibly wrenched from house-buyers, councils, and local authorities who have to acquiesce to the archaeologically inspired laws.
Current legal requirements maintain archaeological jobs – unlike everyone else’s – safe and secure bringing in shed loads of folding dosh (nice work if you can get it – and they do) leaving developers with the dubious privilege opening their wallets and repeating the archaeologist’s chant, “Help yourself.”
If this proposed Bill passes into law it will be the long-awaited good news signalling the end of what amounts to years of legalised mugging. After all, if archaeology ceased as of midnight tonight, what effect would it have on everyday life? NONE! Would that really matter? NO! Would the hungry be fed? NO! The sick healed? NO!
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