Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today urged the Scottish Government to commit to world class infrastructure and facilities for Orkney’s world class heritage sites.
Mr McArthur was speaking in a debate at Holyrood celebrating Scotland’s ‘Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology’.
Highlighting to the Chamber the public anger at Historic Environment Scotland’s decision to close and then limit access to Maeshowe, Mr McArthur warned the challenge of Scotland’s ‘Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology’ “will be to ensure that it leaves a positive legacy”.
A formal roundtable to be held jointly with Historic Environment Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and other stakeholders is due to take place on 10 February.
Following the exchanges, Mr McArthur said:
“I welcome the agreement by HES Chief Executive, Alex Paterson to visit Orkney next week to meet with stakeholders. Those talks need to deliver urgent action ahead of the forthcoming tourist season.
“But more ambitious long term solutions are also needed.
“Orkney was at the heart of Neolithic civilisation, and that is where Orkney should be in this Scottish Government's plans to celebrate heritage.
“That means a firm commitment by the government, its agencies and local partners to deliver the sort of World Heritage Gateway in Orkney that will do justice to Orkney’s world class heritage sites.”
Orkney’s MSP also used his speech to call on government to do more to support regional archaeologists, under threat in a number of places across Scotland, and ensure that more is done to help take advantage of the growing interest in wartime heritage, an area where Orkney is well placed to benefit .
Recognising the importance of community leadership, Mr McArthur used the example of Sanday Heritage Trust, to highlight what is being achieved and why it is important to help “build capacity at a local level, not just extend the powers of Historic Environment Scotland at the centre.”