Helping the Historic Environment Sector to become more resilient
Mar 14, 2017

RAB Consultants and project partners Atkins Heritage designed a pilot programme in 2015/16 on behalf of Historic England to raise the awareness of the historic environment and vulnerable landscapes in North Yorkshire during emergency incident.

This pilot study was undertaken in partnership with the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum (NYLRF), which includes the emergency services, local authorities and the Environment Agency. Other historic environment organisations were also involved such as Natural England, The National Trust and the North York Moors National Park. 

The project began with a stakeholder workshop to identify and discuss the issues facing the resilience sector and historic environment sector. It also extensively researched previous incidents around the UK where disasters such as fires and floods had impacted scheduled monuments, listed buildings, or other culturally important locations.

Reviewing resilience incidents

This research resulted in a Lessons Identified Report, establishing the lessons that have been learnt from past incidents and how they were managed. The report made a series of recommendations on what worked well and what could be done differently to prepare, respond and recover from incidents within the North Yorkshire environment.

Emergency Response Plan

The project worked closely with the NYLRF to produce an Emergency Response Plan which details how both resilience and historic environment agencies in North Yorkshire would respond to an incident that affected the vulnerable landscapes that are widely found throughout the region.

To aid the response, a series of maps were created using GIS to show the vulnerable locations throughout North Yorkshire. These maps were digitized to categorise different vulnerable features that are present in the environment, and ensure that future incidents are managed in the appropriate way.  

Working together to protect vulnerable landscapes

Three stakeholder workshops were held in total which enabled each organisation to contribute to the overall project. It also helped to facilitate better understanding and communication between the resilience and historic environment sectors. These communication links will ensure the plan is properly maintained, as will be vital in any future incident.

One of the methods used to continue sharing information before and during incidents is through Resilience Direct (RD). This a secure web based platform designed for the resilience community to share plans, mapping, contact details and incident updates. Although primarily reserved for Category 1 and 2 responders, other organisations heavily involved with incident response and recovery can have limited access to RD. This will allow the stakeholders (from the historic environment sector) access to the plans, maps and other important information developed by the project.

Taking the project forward

As the current project concludes, the final product was a strategy document which puts forward recommendations on how historic environment resilience can continue to be improved in the future.

One of the main recommendations is to look carefully resilience within the historic environment sector across the country. For example, site management methods and procedures should be reviewed to identify ways in sites themselves can be better prepared. Increasing resilience levels of sites will help protect them for unnecessary damage, and can reduce the burden for responders. Furthermore, ensuring there is a suitable out of hours contact mechanism will allow the resilience sector to get hold of the right information they need to guide them.

Finally, the project should be introduced to other LRFs to raise awareness nationwide. By delivering local presentations and workshops, the role of the historic environment sector can be publicised and tailored emergency response plans can be implemented.

If you would like to know more about the project, please contact Dave Went at Historic England on 01904 601 897, or Benjamin Clare at RAB Consultants on 01234 363 582.