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Francis: Protecting historic monuments in Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I was hoping, Minister, that you would have read the amendment that we tabled to both motions more carefully, because the fact of the matter is that these abolition Orders afford your Government a real opportunity to implement a proper strategy—a plan for action for the historic environment in Wales.

Back in the summer of 2002, Sue Essex commissioned a review on arrangements for the future management of the historic environment in Wales.

The following spring, a consultation on the review of the historic environment was commissioned, with responses published in January two years ago. Since then, we have had a couple of statements from you, mostly telling us stuff that we already knew.

I asked you in April 2005 whether the statement that you made then would represent the precursor to some kind of strategy.

You mentioned the historic environment group, which was formed in October 2004, and has met just three times since then. Its objective was apparently to put together a forward work programme.

However, the minutes of its last meeting revealed that the forward work programme, or plan, might be considered a few meetings hence, when the group has established itself. That is not exactly what I call 'cooking with gas', is it?

Yet, undoubtedly, this group has a wealth of expertise, which you have mentioned, and that offers your Government an opportunity to develop a strategy.

Allow me to remind you that the historic environment supports 22,000 jobs in Wales and is worth £750 million to the Welsh economy. It provides the very reason why tourists visit Wales, and it has the potential for growth, which is enormous.

Apart from that, the reality is that the historic environment is about ordinary people and places, as well as iconic sites and rare artefacts.

Encouraging people in the local significance of these real places and objects contributes to a sense of community and underpins quality of life. There are here opportunities to learn, to re-skill and to inspire, and I believe that your Government is dragging its feet on this issue.

This year, 2006, offers an ambitious approach—I know that that is a big word for you, Minister—with the imminent environment strategy for Wales and the emerging cultural strategy for Wales.

There is an opportunity to seize the day and to develop ambitious outcomes for Wales's unique heritage and historic environment.

If an assessment of the historic environment is undertaken, including an audit of current expenditure and a projection of future needs, that will count towards a serious effort in developing a proper action plan. English Heritage counts.

An annual state of the historic environment report, which is undertaken over the border, is now in its fifth year and provides an account of current trends that affect the historic environment and the threats and challenges faced by those responsible for running it sustainably. Does Wales not deserve to have this as well? Obviously, you do not think so.

I am pleased that you are supporting the amendments tabled by Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats, but I just wish that you had the foresight and the nous to support our amendments as well."

"Yr oeddwn yn gobeithio, Weinidog, y byddech wedi darllen y gwelliant y bu inni ei gyflwyno i'r ddau gynnig yn fwy gofalus, oherwydd y gwir amdani yw bod y Gorchmynion diddymu hyn yn rhoi cyfle gwirioneddol i'ch Llywodraeth weithredu strategaeth briodol—cynllun gweithredu ar gyfer yr amgylchedd hanesyddol yng Nghymru.

Yn ystod haf 2002, comisiynodd Sue Essex adolygiad o'r trefniadau ar gyfer rheoli'r amgylchedd hanesyddol yng Nghymru yn y dyfodol. Y gwanwyn dilynol, comisiynwyd ymgynghoriad ar yr adolygiad o'r amgylchedd hanesyddol, a chyhoeddwyd ymatebion fis Ionawr ddwy flynedd yn ôl.

Ers hynny, yr ydym wedi cael ambell ddatganiad gennych chi, yn dweud pethau a wyddem eisoes ar y cyfan. Gofynnais i ichi ym mis Ebrill 2005 pa un a oedd y datganiad a wnaethoch bryd hynny yn rhagflaenydd i ryw fath o strategaeth.

Bu ichi sôn am y grwp amgylchedd hanesyddol, a ffurfiwyd ym mis Hydref 2004, ac nad yw wedi cyfarfod ond dair gwaith ers hynny. Ymddengys mai ei amcan oedd rhoi blaenraglen waith at ei gilydd. Fodd bynnag, dangosodd cofnodion y cyfarfod diwethaf y gellid ystyried y flaenraglen waith, neu'r cynllun, ymhen ychydig gyfarfodydd, pan fyddai'r grwp wedi ymsefydlu.

Nid oes llawer o lo ar y tân hwn, nac oes? Ac eto, mae cyfoeth o arbenigedd yn y grwp hwn, heb os, rhywbeth a grybwyllasoch, ac mae hynny'n rhoi cyfle i'r Llywodraeth ddatblygu strategaeth.

Gadewch i mi eich atgoffa fod yr amgylchedd hanesyddol yn cefnogi 22,000 o swyddi yng Nghymru a'i fod yn werth £750 miliwn i economi Cymru. Dyna'r union reswm y mae ymwelwyr yn dod i Gymru, ac mae potensial enfawr ar gyfer twf.

Heblaw am hynny, y gwir yw bod pobl gyffredin a lleoedd cyffredin yn bwysig i'r amgylchedd hanesyddol, yn ogystal â safleoedd eiconig ac arteffactau prin.

Mae annog pobl i weld pwysigrwydd lleol y lleoedd a'r gwrthrychau gwirioneddol hyn yn cyfrannu at ymdeimlad o gymuned ac yn ategu ansawdd bywyd.

Mae cyfleoedd yma, i ddysgu, i ail-hyfforddi ac i ysbrydoli, a chredaf fod eich Llywodraeth yn llusgo'i thraed ar y mater hwn.

Mae eleni, 2006, yn cynnig ymagwedd uchelgeisiol—gwn fod hwnnw'n air mawr i chi, Weinidog—gyda'r strategaeth amgylcheddol i Gymru sydd ar ddigwydd a'r strategaeth ddiwylliannol i Gymru sydd ar droed.

Mae cyfle i ddatblygu canlyniadau uchelgeisiol i amgylchedd hanesyddol a threftadaeth unigryw Cymru. Os gwneir asesiad o'r amgylchedd hanesyddol, gan gynnwys archwiliad o wariant presennol a rhagamcaniad o anghenion y dyfodol, bydd hynny'n cyfrif tuag at ymdrech ddifrifol i ddatblygu cynllun gweithredu go iawn.

Mae Treftadaeth Lloegr yn cyfrif. Mae adroddiad blynyddol ar gyflwr yr amgylchedd hanesyddol, a gynhelir dros y ffin, yn ei bumed flwyddyn erbyn hyn ac yn nodi'r tueddiadau presennol sy'n effeithio ar yr amgylchedd hanesyddol a'r bygythiadau a'r heriau sy'n wynebu'r rhai sy'n gyfrifol am ei gynnal yn gynaliadwy.

Onid yw Cymru'n haeddu hyn hefyd? Nid ydych chi'n credu hynny, mae'n amlwg.

Yr wyf yn falch eich bod yn cefnogi'r gwelliannau a gyflwynwyd gan Blaid Cymru a'r Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, ond byddai'n dda gennyf pe byddai'r craffter a'r crebwyll gennych i gefnogi ein gwelliannau hefyd."

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