Borderlands in line for world-wide fame

A first step towards parts of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders being recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site has been taken, cultural campaigners have announced.

A first step towards parts of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders being recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site has been taken, cultural campaigners have announced.

Backers of the Borders World Heritage Park project say it deserves the coveted status because of its unique history and landscape.

If successful, it would put the Borders on an equal footing with the likes of Egypt's Pyramids and the Great Wall of China.

And now, following negotiations with the Prime Minister's Office and the Department of Culture, the bid will receive an official invitation for consideration to be added to the Government's Tentative list.

That is the first requirement for World Heritage nominations.

An official request has already been made to council leaders on both sides of the River Tweed to support the bid, which is being spearheaded by Hawick goldsmith Ken Moffatt.

He believes that, if successful, it would put the Borders on the world map and bring in hundreds of millions of pounds, as well as safeguard its heritage for generations to come.

"This is a major development," said Mr Moffatt, of Teviothead.

"This has been brought about by the hard work of party supporters comprising of MPs, MSPs, MEPs and councillors, from all political backgrounds and from all four regions within the BWHP area - Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Cumbria and Northumberland, not to mention the hard work of the founder members.

"Competition for invites is very strong, and extremely few invitations are offered. The last review of the Government's Tentative List was in 1999, and it is very important that the invitation be met with a committed and professional response from regional government, which will need to be prepared for the New Year."

So far Scottish Borders Council and Dumfries and Galloway have appointed a joint representative to progress the issue, and the group is currently in negotiations with Cumbria to allocate an officer.

Northumberland County Council, however, has not yet responded.

The scheme already has support from a cross-party group of MPs, not least the Conservative leader David Cameron, who said the Borders has a strong case for World Heritage status.

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