THE mighty Pontcysyllte Aqueduct faces a tense ninemonth wait before hearing whether it will join an exclusive club of majestic global heritage venues.
An assessor from the International Council on Monuments and Sites has completed his three-day visit to Thomas Telford’s architectural masterpiece, putting the authenticity and integrity of the entire site and its management under the microscope.
Now his report will be submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in July, with their approval needed to secure its inclusion on the coveted World Heritage List.
British Waterways Wales and Border Counties heritage and environment manager Peter Birch said every angle was covered during the inspection.
“The assessment involved a helicopter flight over the majestic structure along the Dee Valley, plus boat trips along its 18km length, including a ride on the horse-drawn boat at Llangollen,” said Mr Birch.
“In addition to the main attraction of Pontcysyllte, detailed inspections of key features including Horseshoe Falls, Chirk Tunnel and Aqueduct were undertaken. Presentations from partner organisations were a central feature, as well as meetings with community and council representatives,” Mr Birch added.
Although the assessor does not provide specific comment, Mr Birch said he seemed particularly impressed by the degree of community involvement in the bid, the level of protection offered to the site by its Scheduled Ancient Monument status, the planning process and the developing management plan.
Now partners will continue to develop their plans for the site with full community support and engagement a key feature – regardless of the UNESCO decision on WHS status.
“The partners are committed to enhancing site conservation, with the aim of delivering economic and social benefits to local communities and beyond,” said Mr Birch.
“Continued support for the bid from the Welsh Assembly Government is vital in helping us meet high UNESCO standards should the site be inscribed in 2009.
“A successful bid would provide the area with a real boost, especially with the pending closure of the Flexsys works near Trevor,” he added.