IHBC Yearbook 2023

REVIEW AND ANALYSIS 15 WELCOME! MIKE BROWN, IHBC PRESIDENT WELCOME TO the IHBC Yearbook, now in its 23rd wonderful year. Within these pages you will find a comprehensive guide to the world of heritage conservation, including a directory of our members and supporters, our HESPR members, details of local, national and international conservation organisations, suppliers of many valuable conservation products and services, and articles on climate change and the historic environment, which is our theme for the Swansea Annual School. I do hope you found time to attend one of the many IHBC Silver Jubilee events up and down the country, to raise a glass in celebration and share time, experiences and gossip with fellow members. The hot topic for the coming year will be the future evolution of the IHBC and whether we should decide to petition the privy council for a Royal Charter. The member consultation was launched at council in April and the board members and I hope to meet with as many of you as possible to debate this issue over the coming months. That could be at branch meetings, the Annual School, future council meetings or simply via email or online. This will be a member led decision and we plan to bring a resolution forward to the AGM at the end of the year. Do join in the debate. And so, to climate change and the historic environment, also the theme of this yearbook. Some say the modern environmentalist era was born in 1968 when Earthrise, the photograph of our planet taken over the lunar landscape by Apollo 8, was published. For the first time in history, we mere terrestrials could see our planet in all its lonely fragility. The human conflict and strife below had, for many young people in the West, a new and profound context. The old philosophy, that the Earth was a gift from God for the enjoyment and exploitation of men, now seemed both short-sighted and irresponsible. What began in the 1970s as ‘ecology’ grew from a much mocked minority view to the mainstream green issue it is today. And now an early adopter sits on the throne. Sadly, the lack of visibility and proximity of the harm being done (until recently), the enjoyment of consumerism and the weight of lobbying by vested interests have meant that changes in attitudes and policies needed have been all too slow. And now we find we are rapidly running out of time. However, there are grounds for optimism. Each year brings new hope of technological advances that might offer solutions. Breakthroughs in the development of fusion power with its potential for low cost, carbon free energy, the production of green hydrogen, and the expansion of wind and tidal renewables might yet secure future green energy supplies. Furthermore, developments in carbon capture might help undo some of the environmental damage already done. So, well directed human ingenuity might yet save the day. The IHBC and those practising within the historic environment are no strangers to concerns relating to the wider environment. We often state that preserving listed buildings and the historic environment are intrinsically green activities. Preserving, repairing and recycling buildings, the use of natural materials and encouraging the more efficient use of urban capacity are exemplars of how to end our throw-away society and lead more sustainable lives. But, as our political leaders wake up to the scale of the climate change challenge, we now find ourselves under pressure to do more to meet energy conservation driven political directives. So be it. But let’s not lose sight of the bigger and longer term picture. Many of the measures being developed to better insulate and more efficiently heat our homes (including many listed buildings) may prove to be only temporarily needed in order to slow the damage while new technology comes forward. Fusion power (which, to be fair, has developed a reputation of always being 25 years away) might make retrofit redundant. But it’s not here yet and in the meantime, we must do what we can with the tools available. Nevertheless, given the potential of green technology to make many of the energy conservation measures now being considered within the historic environment temporary, I do ask that we take care to ensure these measures minimise harm and are readily reversible. Always end on a song! Standing on the Moon by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter of the Grateful Dead, a slow, stately ballad, has something of Earthrise about it. Mike Brown is IHBC President (president@ihbc.org.uk), Director of Conservation & Design Ltd.