Heritage and Planning are both devolved responsibilities in the UK. The Assemblies of Wales and Northern Ireland, and parliament in Scotland, pass their own laws in these areas. Wales and Scotland currently (as of 2015) have new Heritage Bills in progress.


The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act of 1979 is still in effect but clearly outdated. It covers scheduled sites rather than archaeology generally. There is a similarly-themed Draft Heritage Protection Bill for England and Wales that was published in 2008, but didn’t progress, and is superseded by, e.g. the break-up of English Heritage in 2015, the introduction of the Localism Act (2011) in England, the National Planning Policy Framework (2012) in England, and new heritage legislation in Wales.

The UK parliament in Westminster is responsible for drafting any new Heritage Bill to apply in England. This would be done through the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS), perhaps working in co-operation with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as Defra have responsibility for, e.g. Florence Convention implementation. Normally the process for a new Bill starts with a White Paper consultation.

In the absence of a Heritage Act in England, decisions on archaeology and conservation are made with reference to the planning rules - e.g. the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) - associated with the Town and Country Planning Act (1990). Conservation and Enhancement of the Historic Environment is covered in Chapter 12 of the NPPF.

The Government has also published Guidance Notes on Conserving and enhancing the historic environment