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22 November 2022

Our Annual Report 2021-22

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has today (22 November 2022) published its Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021-22 and Properties in the Care (PiC) of Scottish Ministers Annual Report 2021-22.

Wild flowers around Calanais Standing Stones
The reports highlight how HES is delivering on its Corporate Plan - ‘Heritage For All’ and commitments, as well as providing an overview of the contribution that the organisation makes to the Scottish economy, education and skills training, achieving net zero and overall wellbeing. 
Key statistics from the year include:  
  • Invested over £12.3 million through the HES grants programme, helping communities to restore their built heritage and improve their understanding of the past.
  • While commercial income during this period  was up 152% on last year at £20.7 million. we continued to feel the impact of COVID-19 and it was still down on pre-pandemic levels.
  • HES welcomed 1.2 million visitors to staffed sites.
  • A total of £28.2 million, inclusive of staff costs, was invested in conservation, maintenance and management of the PiCs. 
  • A further 93,000 items from the archive were digitised and improvements were made to the display of these in Canmore through the introduction of zooming functionality.
  • We continued to make a positive contribution to net zero, with carbon emissions reduced by 27% from 2019-2020, bringing the total reduction over 2014 - 2022 to 49%. 
  • Around £117 million generated into the Scottish economy from heritage tourism.  
Read our Annual Report

HES continued its ongoing investment in Scotland’s communities, launching a new place-based funding programme offering grants up to £1.5m. The Heritage & Place Programme aims to contribute to the development of vibrant and sustainable places in Scotland through community-based regeneration of the historic environment. Grants, which will typically be between £750,000 - £1.5m, will support a combination of activities including the repair and reuse of historic environment assets, training to strengthen local traditional skills, and building capacity within communities to further value and look after the historic environment in the long-term. 

This financial year marked the third and final year of the HES Corporate Plan, Heritage for All, and despite the pandemic, 93% of the Annual Operating Plan was achieved or partially achieved (compared to 95% in 2020–21 and 2019–20). HES refreshed the plan for 2022 onwards, renewing the organisation’s commitment to harnessing the potential of heritage to contribute towards a fairer, sustainable and more inclusive Scotland. 

In January 2022, HES announced a high-level masonry inspection programme to conduct tactile surveys on more than 200 properties in response to the effects of climate change on historic properties. Surveys of 20 properties in spring 2021 revealed concerns about building fabric and an unacceptable risk of falling masonry.  This led to immediate access restrictions being put in place to protect visitors and staff, with a further 50 properties with similar characteristics also being restricted by late January. The inspections programme is underway and over a dozen properties have had full or partial access restored following their survey.

The operating model was reshaped between April 2021 and May 2022 to ensure resources are allocated in the best way to achieve the outcomes in Heritage for All and contribute to Scottish Government priorities. It enables HES to provide a stronger customer and community focus through an enhanced regional model and fosters more collaborative working with more opportunities for colleagues to develop and progress.

Two important documents were published this year - Our Climate Adaptation Plan 2021–25 sets out a series of actions HES will undertake in order to prepare for and review the risks and impacts on the historic environment associated with climate change and the Equalities Outcomes Report shows the progress made against the stated equality outcomes from 2017–21 and detailing further targets for 2021–25 to put the needs and expectations of diverse groups at the heart of service delivery at HES, as well as addressing under-representation of specific groups within its workforce. 

HES opened their new Skills Training Centre in Stirling in September 2021. This new facility will help to ensure the survival of Scotland’s built heritage by delivering training on the traditional skills and materials used to sustainably conserve, repair and maintain our traditional buildings. 

HES has also started the review of Our Place in Time, Scotland’s collaborative strategy for the historic environment sector and this will be published early in 2023. 

Hugh Hall, Chair of HES since January 2022, said: 

“2021–22 was a year of evolution for us as we managed the ongoing effects of the pandemic on our sites, visitors, income, and teams. We responded quickly to evolving public health guidelines over the course of the year and in spring of 2021 were able to re-open over 70% of our estate to visitors.

“The tourism sector will take time to recover from the pandemic, while additional pressures, such as rising costs and pressure on public finances, are now being felt. Our view is that the historic environment has much to contribute towards tackling emerging issues and that a responsible approach to tourism development is essential as recovery gathers pace. 

“Through our willingness to adapt and by showing leadership, as well as working effectively with partners, we can deliver real benefits for people and places, leading to happier, healthier lives and increased community wealth and wellbeing.

I wish to thank our staff, volunteers, members, donors and partners for their dedication and resilience over the last year.”

About Historic Environment Scotland

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
  • Historic Environment Scotland is a registered Scottish Charity. Scottish Charity No. SC045925 
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For further information, please contact:

Iona Matheson
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Mobile: 07221 959 962