Friday, March 11, 2011

Legal loophole leaves Purton Hulks at risk from vandals

Hulks beside the Severn at Purton. Picture by Bob Naylor©

The historic vessels in the ship's graveyard at Purton do not have the protection they need according to Friends of Purton Chairman, Paul Barnett. He says  that  despite assurances given in 2007 by English Heritage and again in March 2010 by the Culture Secretary, Margaret Hodge, that the site was adequately protected from vandalism by SSSI legislation, the hulks do not in fact have the legal protection needed to ensure their preservation for future generations.


Harriett. Picture by Bob Naylor©
A previously undisclosed report from Natural England says that because some of the wrecks 'lack interment' (not completely buried) they are not protected by law.  

The Report: 'Clarification of the role of wildlife protection legislation in the conservation of the Purton Hulks’ says that whereas Purton's artefacts which are buried are protected, other items above ground level have no legal protection within current environmental law. 

Gerry Hamersley, Natural England manager for  Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Dorset confirmed this, saying, "As there is no likely impact on the wildlife interest of the site Natural England would not be able to take action to prevent impact." And he continued, "In essence, activities that impact solely on the fabric of the vessels would not be of concern in respect of wildlife conservation or the continued favourable condition of the SSSI habitats and species and cannot therefore be regulated using wildlife legislation”


This shock disclosure comes only days after it was learned that the Purton Hulks site on the banks of the River Severn in Gloucestershire is to be officially designated as Britain's largest ships graveyard and Friends of Purton Chairman, Paul Barnett, is calling on local MPs and others to come to the aid of this important maritime heritage site so that its preservation can be assured.


Other stories about the Purton Hulks at:


Friends of Purton website:

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