Archaeology Enforcement Policy January 2022

Last updated: 13 January 2022


Buckinghamshire Council is committed to working in partnership to conserve, enhance, record, and promote the historic environment of Buckinghamshire. Archaeological work undertaken in connection with development enables important sites to be protected, provides invaluable insights into the county's history, and contributes to research at a regional, national, and international level.

The planning process provides a legal framework for managing land use change, including the impact upon archaeological remains. Where important archaeological remains are threatened by development then the planning system provides the mechanism to ensure that appropriate investigations are carried out to recognised standards, and the results brought to publication in a timely manner. In such circumstances, the developer is required to ensure that archaeological investigation takes place to the agreed standard; normally developers will commission an archaeological contractor to undertake the work. Professional archaeological contractors work to a brief (template briefs are available on the council’s web site) set by the Buckinghamshire Council Archaeological Service, who act as advisers to Buckinghamshire Council. Similar procedures also apply to certain forms of "permitted development", such as those by statutory undertakers where environmental safeguards may be secured through duties imposed through primary legislation (e.g., the Gas and Water Acts) and/or through Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

This policy sets out the council's position on securing compliance with archaeological requirements in a development-related context and the procedures to be followed in the event of non-compliance. The primary objective is to avoid non- compliance issues arising through setting clear requirements and ensuring properly qualified archaeologists undertake work. Where non-compliance issues arise, the council will seek to resolve issues effectively by working with developers and archaeological contractors within a planning framework administered by Buckinghamshire Council and professional standards set by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. However, archaeological remains are vulnerable to rapid and irreversible destruction by modern earthmoving machinery. For this reason, swift and robust enforcement action can be essential to prevent serious loss. If matters cannot be resolved voluntarily then formal action may be recommended through planning enforcement procedures and/or, if appropriate, by complaint to the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. Where an archaeological contractor has a track record of unresolved non-compliance issues then the council will inform Planning and prospective clients of this record where that contractor is proposed to undertake work.

In the special case of scheduled ancient monuments, it is a criminal offence under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 to undertake unauthorized works – in such cases English Heritage would normally be the investigating and prosecuting authority