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4 February 2021

Scotland’s historic environment strategy on track for delivery despite COVID challenges

Despite a challenging year in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Scotland’s 10-year strategy for the historic environment – Our Place in Time (OPiT) – remains firmly on track for delivery by 2024.

General view of Calton Hill, Dugald Stewart Monument, Nelson Monument, National Monument and the former Royal High School from Salisbury Crags, Holyrood Park

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is responsible for leading and enabling delivery of OPiT under the oversight of Scotland’s Historic Environment Forum (SHEF), chaired by Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

The 2020 Annual Report has now been published by HES. Overall, it shows the sector worked well together and accomplished a great deal in 2019–20, despite having to make significant adjustments in response to the impact of COVID-19.

Achievements over the course of the year span the whole range of OPiT objectives and activity.

Nine of the 13 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are on track for delivery. The remaining four have been particularly impacted by the COVID pandemic, highlighting the importance of ongoing cross sector discussions regarding collaborative working to help (post- COVID) recovery. Published findings from HES-led surveys into the impact of COVID on the heritage sector are also being used to inform collaborative actions to support long-term recovery.

As the report shows, key areas where progress has been particularly strong include an increase in the public’s social and economic wellbeing derived from the historic environment and the sector’s ongoing positive work to combat climate change through reducing C02 emissions. There was also positive progress in terms of “cross cutting” sector priories such as the development and capacity of traditional and other skills needed to nurture, manage, and enjoy the historic environment across Scotland.

In terms of the crucial ongoing work to address the impact of Coronavirus on Scotland’s historic environment, the report notes how the sector quickly transformed the way it works to effectively respond to the challenges the pandemic caused. Highlighting current examples such as partners liaising through the OPiT working groups and the wider COVID Heritage Resilience forum (CHERF) - all which are supporting (post COVID) recovery.

Commenting on the report, Chair of Historic Environment Scotland, Jane Ryder said:

As we continue to adapt and move through the various challenges COVID-19 has brought, the 2020 Annual OPiT report makes for encouraging and positive reading.

“Given what the sector has experienced, it is testament to the commitment, dedication and professionalism of our colleagues and partners that the vast majority of the strategy’s objectives remain firmly on track for delivery.

“Equally heartening, as the report notes, is the collaborative work going on across the sector. As the lead body for Scotland’s historic environment, it is vital HES supports partners and organisations across the country to deal with those challenges and we are delighted to be doing so through initiatives such as the £2.6m Historic Environment Recovery Fund (HERF); the first tranche of which we have already announced, with over 40 organisations benefitting from an initial pot of £1.9m.

“Clearly there are still tough times ahead, however, as we see from this (OPiT) report, there are grounds for optimism as the sector looks to work together to meet the challenges we face, individually and collectively and to maximise the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Read the report

About Year of Coasts and Waters 2021

The Year of Coasts and Waters (#YCW2021), led by VisitScotland, will be showcased throughout 2021. Activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink - whisky.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

  • 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.
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For further information, please contact:

Barry McPherson
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Mobile: 07221 959 962