Posted on behalf of David Hopkins, County Archaeologist, Hampshire County Council:
"Dear all, I understand that there has been some discussion about FEPs, and whilst I have not been in a position where I can follow that debate, I hope you don't mind if I make an observation or two.
FEPs do take a little while to sort out and we have had a couple of very large examples. But they are not that daunting, and Countryside Stewardship consultations also took a little while to deal with in their day. We have approached it by creating a standard FEP GIS enquiry format which clips out a 'data pack', initially for review and comment, and then to be sent with the FEP response. I review the archaeological and historic landscape data and evolve advice suitable for use in the FEP which I write out in a note to go in the data pack. We also have an excel report format that mimics the FEP report and I present the data and advice in that format. There is also usually a little while at the photocopier copying a few helpful documents.
We do not recast the data, we use the data that we have.
I don't do site visits. This is explicit in my comments and advice. Frequently this places an onus on the FEP'er to clarify specific issues that I raise in my advice.
I understand that the standard fee acknowledges that some FEPS will be harder and some easier and that they will balance each other out over time. I have also taken on board previous advice and we haven't charged for a couple of FEPs where we really have had nothing very helpful to say. The FEP fee is a useful strand of funding to support aspects of our database development, but I don't regard our support for FEPs as being about the money. FEPs are a mechanism through which, with a little work, we can secure the positive management of important archaeological sites in the farmed landscape. This is a mechanism I am delighted to have as an option. It is a mechanism with great leverage. The amount of work involved in supporting a FEP is small compared to the amount of work and resources that would be needed to achieve the same outcome without FEPs.
I do feel it is important to ensure that positive messages are not lost. The importance of historic environment in FEPs, and our ability to influence this, are welcome steps forward. David Hopkins (Hampshire)"
Winchester, SO23 8UE
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Fax 01962 846776