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LETTER-WRITING CAMPAIGN

On the principle that there is strength in numbers, the more people who participate in this campaign, the more chance there is of saving the surviving setting of the Thornborough Henges.

Here are some points you can make when lobbying the people listed below or writing to the media:

  • The Thornborough Henges complex in North Yorkshire is the most important prehistoric site between Stonehenge and the Orkneys, yet the setting of this little-known national treasure is being destroyed for ever by quarrying.

  • The guidance set out in PPG 16 was not strictly adhered to when permission was granted in 1995 for the present Nosterfield Quarry

  • Archaeologists now recognise that, in order to interpret henge complexes, they need to study in depth the landscapes in which they are set, as is now happening at Stonehenge ~ not just the visible monuments

  • PPG 16 was designed to protect visible archaeology and its setting, whereas that in the vicinity of Thornborough Henges is buried ~ as proven by recent excavations by Harding and Griffiths

  • The hasty “preservation by record” remit that PPG 16 affords developers is totally inappropriate to a henge complex from which future technologies could almost certainly extract more information if the remaining setting were allowed to survive

  • PPG 16 fails to explain how a “setting” should be defined, but English Heritage has now attempted to do so in its proposed Conservation Plan ~ and the core area includes Nosterfield Quarry and Tarmac’s intended expansion sites at Ladybridge Farm and Thornborough Moor

  • Since the local planning authority has failed to protect the setting of the henges, which English Heritage regards as being of national significance, then the national government should do so

  • Although now fully aware that they are destroying a priceless national treasure, the senior management of both Tarmac and Anglo American, which project themselves as heritage-friendly developers, are protected by the law of the land ~ and only the Government can act quickly enough to save the as yet un-quarried portion of the henges’ setting at Thornborough

  • The compensation necessary to buy off Tarmac at Thornborough would be a drop in the ocean compared with the £100m allocated to preserve the largely unscheduled landscape around Stonehenge

  • Until such time as more effective legislation is passed, the Government should designate the setting of Thornborough Henges as an Area of Archaeological Importance and buy it for the nation by compulsory purchase

  • 50% of the setting of this nationally important complex has already been destroyed by open-cast quarrying, together with its archaeological evidence, and more is being lost for ever as you read this letter.

Before drafting a letter, you may find it helpful to consult “A Community View of the Archaeology of the Thornborough Henges Complex” (Please read) which encapsulates our arguments for quarrying to be stopped.

Central Government

1.   A far-reaching report into the state of British archaeology has revealed that weak government support is putting the country’s heritage at risk. The first All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group (APPAG) report – the result of the most in-depth parliamentary investigation into archaeology ever – shows that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is failing to take the lead and employs no archaeologists. This is the Government Department ultimately responsible for the fate of the henge complex. Tarmac could appeal to it if its Ladybridge application is turned down by NYCC, and the Secretary of State has the power to overturn the existing protection and allow the henges themselves to be quarried. Equally, she also has the power to ensure their preservation in perpetuity on behalf of the nation. The address is: 

Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell MP,
Secretary of State,
Department for Culture, Media, and Sport,
2-4 Cockspur Street,
London,
SW1Y 5DH  

Although you could write to the Prime Minister, his staff will simply forward your letter to Tessa Jowell because this issue is her responsibility.

2.    Before writing to your local MP, check first if he/she is one of the 100+ members of APPAG ( which implies an interest in archaeology) by consulting "www.sal.org.uk/appag". Please send a copy of your letter to our supportive local Parliamentary representative, Miss Anne McIntosh MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. Alternatively, you can fax your MP using the free service from FaxYourMP.com

3.    You can also express your concern to APPAG by writing to:

Lord Redesdale,
Secretary,
APPAG,
House of Lords,
SW1A 0PW  

The Media

This is potentially the most powerful route for arousing massive support for an issue of public concern, so please write to the letters page of any newspapers/relevant magazines to notify readers of our campaign. Your letter may prompt the editor to call for an article on this problem. Many media have websites with discussion groups in which visitors can express their views on contentious issues, eg. “British Archaeology” at www.britarch.ac.uk. Contact details for the local media are available below, although letters to national media are more likely to raise large-scale protest across the country.

The Abusers

Tarmac, which is owned by the Anglo American mining conglomerate, is recording and destroying archaeology prior to open-cast mining at its existing Nosterfield Quarry and intends to continue this policy across the remaining setting of the henges. On 4 June, Tarmac Northern submitted a planning application to extend quarrying on to Ladybridge Farm, the site of an unprotected Neolithic settlement. Write to both companies demanding that this application be withdrawn in the national interest.

David Baxter,
Managing Director,
Tarmac Northern Ltd, 
PO Box 5, 
Chester-le-Street,  
Co. Durham, 
DH3 2ST  
Edward Bickham, 
Executive Vice-President, 
Anglo American plc,
20 Carlton House Terrace,
London, 
SW1 5AN

The Planning Authority

The county council is responsible for allowing quarrying near the henges, for failing to insist upon restoration to agriculture, and for operating its own landfill tip adjacent to the central henge. Its top priority is to ensure its own survival in the impending referendum on regional government. But it is also the official custodian of ancient monuments in its area (which includes the setting of nationally significant monuments), so make it understand that it has another priority by complaining to:

John Weighell,
Leader,
North Yorkshire County Council,
County Hall,
Northallerton,
DL7 8AD

Potential Saviours

1.    Saving the setting of the henges is the top priority of the Yorkshire Region of English Heritage. Ensure it is also the top priority of the national management team by writing to:

Dr Simon Thurley,
Chief Executive,
English Heritage,
23 Saville Row,
London,
W1S 2ET

Email: put for the attention of Dr Simon Thurley in the subject line -

2.    The Yorkshire office of the National Trust has told us that there are no funds available to buy the land on which the henges stand. Yet the Trust often organises fund-raising campaigns to purchase endangered buildings for the nation ~ as it did Stonehenge. Help to persuade the Trust that this is a national emergency by writing to:  

Fiona Reynolds CBE,
Director-General,
The National Trust,
36 Queen Anne’s Gate,
London,
SW1H 9AS  

Local Press

Bradford Telegraph & Argus

Darlington Northern Echo - Co, Durham

Halifax Evening Courier

Metro (North East) 

 

 

Scarborough Evening News

 

Whitby Gazette

Yorkshire Gazette & Herald

Knaresborough Post 

Halifax Courier

 

Middlesbrough Ev’ Gazette - Teeside

Halifax Evening Courier 

The Northern Echo - Yorkshire

York Evening Press

Selby Post

York Star

Ripon Gazette

Metro - Yorkshire

 

Yorkshire Post

 

Yorkshire Post

Local TV and Radio

100-102 Century FM,  NE England

BBC radio N. Yorkshire

BBC Radio Leeds, Yorkshire

BBC Radio Sheffield Area, Yorkshire

BBC TV, North

 

Fresh Radio, Yorkshire

Galaxy 105-106, North East

Grenada TV Tee Side

Hallam FM, Yorkshire

ITV Yorkshire

Minster FM, Yorkshire

York South TV

York University   - Student

 

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