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Local authority conservation officers are overstretched, underresourced and undervalued, according to new research for English Heritage.

The survey, 'Local Authority Conservation Provision in England', attacks the lack of conservation officers and the detrimental effect this is having on the historic environment. Each planning authority has on average only two conservation experts, each responsible for 700 listed buildings and 16 conservation areas. The report describes this workload as 'almost impossible', saying that many 'struggle to keep up with responding to the effects of new developments on the historic environment'. It also attacks conservation officers'pay. 'More that two-thirds have a postgraduate qualification yet some are paid less than £15,000 a year, ' the report says.

Arts minister Baroness Blackstone and planning minister Tony McNulty welcomed the report, insisting that the government intends to respond to its findings.

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