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Effective Management of Archaeological Project Risk for Developments.

Managing below ground archaeological risk on construction sites requires careful planning and execution to minimise disruptions to the project schedule.

Early planning will ensure that any archaeological remains are identified, preserved, and recorded in line with current legislation. The key point is ‘careful planning’ and the earlier this work is started, the more effective the implementation will be. The engagement of a professional Heritage Consultant will ensure proper measures are in place at all stages to satisfy planning requirements, and will follow the process below.

Thorough heritage assessment

Before project design stage, it’s essential to carry out a preliminary assessment to identify the risk of potential areas for archaeology. This can include a desktop study of previous archaeological investigations in the area, as well as a visual inspection of the site. Undertaking a geophysical survey or possibly evaluation trenching for certain schemes can help to define areas most likely to have important remains. This can help reduce the costly impact of identifying previously unknown complex archaeological remains late in the project construction phase.

Even if the proposed development site is pre-purchase, it is possible to engage your Heritage Consultant to produce an Initial Site Heritage Assessment, which is a cost-effective desk-based report providing a broad overview of potential heritage project risk and possible mitigation options.

Develop a mitigation plan

Where known archaeological remains are identified, or the potential for such features to survive, some form of archaeological mitigation will be required. The design of a programme of archaeological works can include surveying, monitoring, targeted excavation, or simply adjusting the construction plans to avoid sensitive areas altogether. These would be supported by a Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI), which would guide archaeological works on site. Prepared by a professional Heritage Consultant this WSI report would be reviewed and approved by the Local Planning Authority’s Archaeological Advisor before works commence.

Undertaking archaeological mitigation and reporting works 

This can involve creating detailed records of the remains, as well as carefully removing them from the site for further analysis. Any significant archaeological findings will be reported by your Heritage Consultant to the relevant authorities and any necessary permits obtained before continuing construction.

Employing a Registered Archaeology Organisation (RAO) with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists will provide peace of mind that all works comply with the latest industry guidelines for the delivery of commercial archaeology in the UK. RAOs undergo regular assessments as companies and individual consultants can also be accredited by the Institute as well as holding appropriate academic qualifications.

By following these steps, project managers can effectively manage below ground archaeological project risk alongside other pressing construction requirements and ensure that significant archaeological remains are identified and preserved for future generations.

AB Heritage is a Registered Organisation with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and offers pragmatic solutions to manage built heritage and archaeology as part of successful developments. www.abheritage.co.uk