A review is underway this week into whether the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh should retain its world heritage status.
The old and new towns of Edinburgh were granted world heritage status in 1995. However, concern surrounds the Caltongate development in the old town, the rebuilding of the Cowgate fire, changes to the Leith waterfront and the redevelopment of the St James shopping centre.
Delegates from Unesco are visiting the city to decide whether the developments are in keeping with Edinburgh’s status. Under Unesco rules, consultation must take place on any major development in a world heritage site.
The Scottish Government has been given until February to defend the city’s status and a decision is expected in the summer at the Unesco summit in Seville. If the world heritage status was withdrawn it could have a serious negative impact on Scottish tourism.
The World Heritage Convention provides for the identification, protection, conservation and presentation of sites of ‘outstanding universal value’ both cultural and natural.
There are currently 27 world heritage sites in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including Stonehenge, Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast, Ironbridge Gorge, and the Tower of London.