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Heritage sites shake-up unveiled

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Andy Burnham is consulting on halting the nomination of areas as World Heritage Sites.

The culture secretary has announced a new consultation paper on the creation and protection of the sites, which are designed to recognise areas of outstanding cultural or natural importance and beauty.

The UK currently has 27 designated sites, ranging from Durham Cathedral to the tin mining landscape of Cornwall.

The government last drew up a list of tentative sites for designation 10 years since when UNESCO has asked its member states to slow down or suspend the nomination of sites for world heritage status.

The paper asks whether the government should add further sites to the World Heritage List at the same - or a slower - rate, or stop nominations.

It also questions whether the costs and benefits of designation are worth while and seeks views on the measures that could be taken to strengthen protection for WHSs.

The consultation paper has been issued in tandem with new research which finds that benefits for tourism and regeneration from WHS designation have been overstated.

And it says that funding for the protection of WHSs is often siphoned off from sums previously earmarked for heritage sites elsewhere.

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