VALUING WALES' RICH HERITAGE; Care for Our Historic Sites, Urges Report

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Byline: David Williamson

HISTORIC sites across Wales support 30,000 jobs and generate around pounds 840m for the Welsh economy, claims a major report launched in Cardiff today.

The research, commissioned by the National Trust, concludes with the stark warning that if parts of our heritage are lost or forgotten they can rarely be recovered.

Key sites in South Wales supported by Cadw, the Assembly Government's historic environment division, include Cardiff Castle, Castell Coch and Caerphilly Castle.

The report, Valuing the Welsh Historic Environment, warns that the nation's heritage must be actively cared for and promoted.

Dr Ruth Williams, of the National Trust, chaired the study's steering group and she insists Wales now has clear evidence of the value of the historic environment.

Arguing that efforts to preserve Wales' historic treasures must not be axed because of tightened public finances, she said: "The breadth of the partnership involved in the study and the comprehensive nature of the research means we now have concrete evidence of its importance.

"Therefore it is in the interest of everyone in Wales that, even in these times of austerity, the historic environment is enthusiastically cared for, and promoted, to increase the economic and social benefits it provides."

The total value of all the goods and services produced in Wales which are linked to the historic environment is calculated to be pounds 1.8bn, with a net contribution of pounds 840m going to Wales' total Gross Value Added.

Wales has nearly 30,000 listed buildings and more than 4,000 scheduled ancient monuments. There are also six historic wrecks, 428 registered historic landscapes, parks and gardens, and 519 conservation areas.

The report praises the Blaenavon Partnership, which has worked to secure the greatest economic benefits of the World Heritage Site for the surrounding community.

The Big Pit attracted 165,696 visitors; the Blaenavon Ironworks was visited by 29,961 people; and the Blaenavon Heritage Railway had 9,364 visitors.

More than 65 jobs have been safeguarded and created, and three quarters of previously derelict buildings in the town centre have been transformed. …