Consultation opens today to find out the public’s views on whether the Forth Bridge should be nominated for World Heritage status. The 12-week long consultation is being led by the Forth Bridges Forum which includes a number of local and national organisations. It wants to hear from individuals and interested parties about their support of the iconic railway bridge’s nomination. It also know how people view the potential social, economic and cultural benefits of World Heritage and how this can be managed in the local and national interest. In particular, the Forum wants to find out how a successful bid could deliver benefits for the local communities, as well as in wider areas such as tourism, education, skills and innovation.

Forth Bridges Forum
Forth Bridges Forum

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport in London announced in May last year that the 19th-Century landmark structure would be the first site from the revised UK Tentative List to be put forward to UNESCO for nomination. Since then a significant amount of work, including local community engagement, has been carried out. Information gathered over the coming weeks will be added to the final document which will then be submitted to UNESCO in early 2014. If accepted, World Heritage Site inscription would take place the following year.

All the consultation documents, instructions and guidance can be seen on the nomination’s website. However. there will also be a number of events involving the local communities arranged by Fife Council and the City of Edinburgh Council on either side of the bridge during the 12-week period.

Fiona Hyslop MSP
Fiona Hyslop MSP
Launching the consultation, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said that the Forth Bridge was “an iconic and enduring symbol of Scotland’s Victorian engineering ingenuity at its very best. It truly is deserving of World Heritage Site status and as a new industrial heritage site would join our five existing Scottish World Heritage sites in achieving this international recognition. Securing this status would be an enormous honour and source of pride, not only for the communities of North and South Queensferry, but for Scotland as a whole. The designation will deliver numerous benefits, and a key aspect of the consultation will be to consider how these would benefit the Bridges local communities to ensure that the World Heritage Site would be sustainable. We want to submit the strongest possible bid to UNESCO, and I would urge the communities on either side of the Forth Bridge and all interested parties to participate to make sure we achieve this ambition in 2015.”

The Forth Bridge is owned and operated by Network Rail. David Simpson, its route managing director, said that the organisation was “pleased to give this nomination our full backing. The Forth Bridge is a unique, world class structure and it deserves to be recognised as a high point of human ambition and achievement. We consider ourselves as proud custodians of the Bridge and look forward to hearing the feedback from the consultation.”

The Forth Bridge World Heritage Consultation will close on Sunday 11th August 2013

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David Calder has been a broadcast journalist for over 30 years. Before moving to the Caledonian Mercury, he worked for the BBC (national and regional) as well as parts of ITV and the World Service. He worked for prestigious programmes such as The Money Programme, You & Yours, Today and The World at One. He spent two years making mini-documentaries for Radio 5 Live and was a regular correspondent for CBC (Radio Canada). He was a regular reporter on various news and current affairs programmes on BBC Scotland as well as producing or presenting (sometimes both) science, legal affairs and arts programmes. As well as his contributions to the Caledonian Mercury, he is also a freelance producer in Scotland for the satellite channel, Al Jazeera.