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No Watching Brief on Pipelines!?!
#31
Having undertaken watching briefs through areas of reinstated open cast before, I can attest to the boredom they can bring. The only interesting thing to look out for is the vague expectation that the 360 may disappear down a big void at any moment due to improper reinstatement. The archaeology of mines can be interesting though- you sometimes get galleries and underground roadways appearing just adjacent to the open cast area.
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#32
tmsarch wrote
Quote:quote:No the material was not evenly spread, but the tolerances were such that the decision could be taken not to monitor a significant portion of the route and that archaeological resources could be better spent. This was a decision which was subject to a lot of discussion and analysis, but I feel the correct one was reached in the end. Yes the scheme was monitored, but not a blanket watching brief along the whole route

Hello tmsarch,

I take it that some areas of the route which were assumed as historically documented and geologically proven to be made-ground were in fact not. But for financial reasons the opportunity to observe areas that might not have been made-ground were missed and so too was the evidence of activities prior to the dumping of the overburden.

I am puzzled as to why other resources could be better spent when this is a watching brief and I would have hoped was contractually different to other archaeological works, as is commonly the case.

Surely this is a case of someone being seen to save a matter of pennies for their client rather than being archaeologically prudent.

In response to Windbag's comments about watching brief's on former open cast sites, and to anyone who cares to comment about the boring aspects of watching brief's, its our job and its what we get paid for. It makes looking and finding archaeology a damn bit more exciting than sleeping in a landrover.

SadSadSadSadSadSadSad
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#33
If the decision not to monitor part of these works was subject to a lot of discussion and analysis surely the costs of this could have been better spent on a watching brief...
Just a thought.
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#34
When we, as archaeologists, decide that a fieldwork operation is necessary, it generally costs someone else a lot of money. Not all of those people have any interest in archaeology, and having their money spent for them in this way can make them very hostile.

We are only able to make these decisions because we are supported by public policy, which is set by politicians, not archaeologists. It is therefore very important that we, as archaeologists, can justify the decisions we make, based on the merits of each individual case.

If we start to make blanket decisions that impose costs on other people on a knee-jerk basis, we will get caught out at some point not being able to justify ourselves, and that will undermine our continued ability to impose archaeological requirements where they are really needed.

So, while it may be true that we would normally expect a pipeline to need a watching brief, we still need to justify the need on the merits of each individual case. We therefore have to accept that, occasionally, there probably will be circumstances where a WB is not required along the whole length.

All decisions on the need for developer-funded archaeology are effectively based on a risk assessment (i.e. how likely is it, in this particular case, that something significant will be missed if we do nothing?).

We cannot, and do not, take an attitude that we must always do something, just on the off-chance. It would be most irresponsible and unjust for us to do so, and if we did we would soon find that we lost the political and moral backing that enables developer-funded archaeology to continue.

1man1desk

to let, fully furnished
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#35
Quote:quote:Originally posted by Sparky


Hello tmsarch,

I take it that some areas of the route which were assumed as historically documented and geologically proven to be made-ground were in fact not.

You assume wrong, I said that the material was not evenly spread, that does not mean that it was absent in some areas, just that its thickness varied. Within the section that was not monitored (even with this variation) the horizon where archaeological remains might be encountered was not impacted by the proposals.

Quote:quote:
But for financial reasons the opportunity to observe areas that might not have been made-ground were missed and so too was the evidence of activities prior to the dumping of the overburden.


No not for financial reasons, but because there was not going to be any archaeological impact.

Quote:quote:
I am puzzled as to why other resources could be better spent when this is a watching brief and I would have hoped was contractually different to other archaeological works, as is commonly the case.

True, I was perhaps simplifying things here. It's perhaps a case of 'getting away with a bit more' in other areas. By insisting on a completely unnecessary watching brief on a section of pipeline that blatantly is not going to reveal any archaeology you're simply going to anger the people that are paying for the work. If you take a fair and reasonable approach then your more likely to be able to push those little 'extras' in other areas.


Quote:quote: Surely this is a case of someone being seen to save a matter of pennies for their client rather than being archaeologically prudent.

I take offense to this comment which is both inaccurate and misrepresentative.

Quote:quote: In response to Windbag's comments about watching brief's on former open cast sites, and to anyone who cares to comment about the boring aspects of watching brief's, its our job and its what we get paid for. It makes looking and finding archaeology a damn bit more exciting than sleeping in a landrover.

borings fine, but if the watching brief is pointless then this is a simple waste of time and money.

The original post implied criticism because there were pipelines that weren't subject to a blanket watching brief. What I was trying to get across is that there might be a reason for this. We cannot apply blanket rules without looking at the individual case. There have been and will be schemes where such coverage is not reasonable.

I think 1man1desk's post above is spot on - but I'm sure others will argue otherwise.


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#36
1Man,

While I agree with your sentiments, as they are only your opinion, I should draw a line between the differences of ‘developer funded’ and ‘polluter pays’ archaeology. Currently, archaeological works will be paid for when a developer is required by planning consent. No one has to complete an application form for funding from the developer to justify the archaeological works. The extent and nature of the works should be directed through negotiation by the archaeological development control officer and these normally reflect the nature of the impact, or pollution, of the development.

With regard to high profile and environmentally sensitive projects such as gas pipelines, I would suggest it is in the interests of the industry to be seen to be giving as many benefits as possible. Furthermore, given the history of archaeological excavation and reporting and some of the notorious mains contractors, surely it is also in the interests of the pipeline industry to clean their act up.


Tmsarch,

I disagree with you on all your points for the reasons I’ve already explained.

I will make a final point and ask as to whether or not someone actually went out to site to check if the engineers’ advice geological information and any SMR data was correct? Did the county archaeologists ask that this was done?

S
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