Is Brexit a threat to the future of New Lanark?

International Development Secretary Penny Morduant has called for the UK to leave Unesco - but how would that affect the highly-prized World Heritage Site status?
International Development Secretary Penny Morduant has called for the UK to leave Unesco - but how would that affect the highly-prized World Heritage Site status?

Decades of work turning New Lanark into the jewel in the crown of Clydesdale’s vital tourist trade could all go to waste if a UK government Brexiteer gets her way.

This claim was made following a highly controversial call from International Development Secretary Penny Morduant for the United Kingdom to leave Unesco as well as the EU.

Unesco, the United Nations cultural and education body, is the organisation which conferred the highly-prized World Heritage Site status on the former mill village.

This raised the historic village’s international profile to attract tourists from around the world and aids its case with seeking funding for the restoration of the community many dub the birthplace of the co-operative movement.

Some have claimed that Ms Morduant’s suggestion - if followed - would inevitably lead to New Lanark being instantly stripped of that hard-won World Heritage Status.

It is further alleged that this, in turn, would see the removal of the special Buffer Zone status the village enjoys, supposedly restricting and new developments that might spoil the scenic surroundings which include the Clyde Valley Nature Reserve and the famed Falls of Clyde.

Ms Morduant’s reason for calling for leaving Unesco - a body Britain helped to create after World War 2 - is how the body spends the £11.1m of funding the organsation receives from the UK government every year.

The Israeli and US governments have both announced they are leaving Unesco, mainly due to disagreements over Palestine being allowed to join the organisation.

In Scotland Unesco rates New Lanark’s importance as being in the same league as other World Heritage Sites such as the Forth Bridge and Edinburgh’s New Town.

The minister’s call has caused anger locally, especially among the membership of Save Our Landscapes (SOL), the pressure group fighting the proposed extension of the Hyndford Quarry into the Buffer Zoe.

A spokesman for the group said: “This will undo years of work making New Lanark what it is today and also the huge efforts to keeping it that way. If the protection of the Unesco status is removed, just watch the area around New Lanark getting covered in new luxury housing estates and quarrying.

“This is a daft and destructive idea.” The campaigners have one important ally, namely Ms Morduant’s boss, Prime Minister Theresa May who has poured cold water on the Unesco withdrawl idea.