Sunday, 16 November 2008

UNESCO delegation and what does it mean?

Professor Manfred Wehdorn from ICMOS ponders Edinburgh's planning process

Gosh last week was a busy week for the Conservation Mafia and the Save Our Old Townies, the Independent Republic has tried it's best to keep those who read the blog up to date. And there are just so many articles to follow. The Canongate's Sally Richardson is in the Sunday Herald today - you can see the photo on page 20 if you buy the real thing or otherwise read it here You can read what the Guardian says here

Dr Mechthild Rossler of the Unesco World Heritage Centre, and Professor Manfred Wehdorn of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, met many officals, developers, conservationists and campaigners in regards to Caltongate, St james Centre, Haymarket and Leith Docks development.

Dr Mechthild Rossler who visited from UNESCO

Dr Mechthild Rossler said "'The World Heritage Committee was concerned that the Caltongate development was approved prior to the committee looking at it more closely. That's why the mission was ordered,'

'I think we got a really good insight into the issues connected with the development projects we looked at. We also looked at the overall state of conservation which is absolutely fine. On behalf of Professor Wehdorn and myself, I can assure you that Edinburgh is not in danger of losing World Heritage status.'

It is important that those interested in the World Heritage don't see that UNESCO are the Mafiosi given diktats about what they think or say - only one heritage site has ever had it's status taken off it and that was when a bird sanctuary came up against an oil field, the government felt the oil field was more important than the bird sanctuary and could not protect it's "outstanding universal values" - alongside UNESCO it was agreed that it was no longer a world heritage site. Where issues are raised UNESCO alongside the State Party try their best to sort out their problems in partnership - this has happened throughout the world, and this is what we hope will happen in Edinburgh. Of course they are not here to take away the World Heritage Status, they were here to see if Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK are committed to protecting the "Outstanding Universal Values" of the World Heritage Sites, and what support Edinburgh may need to protect these values if they are not doing it anyway, see here .

We hope Dr Rossler and Professor Wehdorn got a good view of the city and have lots to think about. The Independent Republic does not want the World Heritage Status to be taken away as we would see that as a disaster and a red flag to developers to develop, develop, develop! We look forward to Rossler and Wehdorn's report - one way or other.

Professor Herb Stovel, Canadian member of UNESCO

Professor Herb Stovel did a fascinating lecture for the Cockburn Association about Edinburgh and it's OUtstanding Universal Values last month which the Independent Republic commented on- check that out here

World Heritage - Prof Stovel podcast can be heard here