On Monday, 11 October 2004, in a Parliamentary Question in the House
of Lords, Baroness Hooper asked the government what action it was taking
to ensure the conservation in Antarctica of the historic huts of the
British explorers Scott and Shackleton. She added that the huts and
the celebrated explorers who used them are of both national and international
In a supplementary question Lord Moran recalled the late Lord Shackleton
who used to sit on the Labour front bench, and commented that he would
have put the case for saving the huts with unique authority. He said
the huts, built by distinguished British explorers, and their remarkable
contents, are a notable part of UK heritage. The huts have miraculously
survived 100 years of extreme Antarctic weather, but are now in real
danger of being lost unless they are conserved as a matter of urgency.
He said the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust had produced a first
rate conservation plan, and asked the Minister to accept that the British
people ought to help preserve these memorials of British enterprise,
and the British government should take a lead.
In another supplementary question, Lord Forsyth of Drumlean commented
that the explorers are national heroes and the artefacts and relics
are very important. He called on the government to make it a priority
and find money to support the conservation, estimated at £10 million,
of these important sites in Antarctica.
In reply, the Foreign and Commonwealth Minister, Baroness Symons of
Vernham Dean, agreed that the huts commemorate national heroes of the
United Kingdom, and that it would be desirable if they could be saved.
She pointed to the money, amounting to over £100,000, being contributed
by the British Antarctic Territory to the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage
Trust and the huts conservation project. She gave no pledge of financial
support from the UK government, saying that £10 million is a lot
of money, and the National Heritage Memorial Fund had been unable to
finance the conservation of one of the huts because of limited resources.
However, she said the Chairman of English Heritage, Sir Neil Cossons,
would be meeting the Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund (who also chairs
the National Heritage Memorial Fund), and the UKAHT to explore other
potential avenues of funding.
1. The NZAHT, which is based Christchurch New Zealand, is a New Zealand
charity. It has the primary responsibility under the Antarctic Treaty
system for conservation work on the historic huts in the Ross Sea area
2. The NZAHT has drawn up conservation plans, internationally peer
reviewed to the highest agreed standards, for Scott's Discovery hut
at Hut Point on Ross Island, Shackleton's Nimrod hut at Cape Royds on
Ross Island, Scott's Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans, Ross Island, and
Borchgrevink's hut at Cape Adare, all in Antarctica.
3. The UKAHT is a UK-registered charity, whose objectives include conserving
Scott's and Shackleton's bases by helping NZAHT. In February 2004, UKAHT
applied to the National Heritage Memorial Fund for £2.4 million
for work at Shackleton's hut under the NZAHT conservation plan, plus
funding to develop an IT-based remote access and education programme
on the hut. In July 2004 the Fund's Trustees turned down the application.
They agreed on the historical importance of the hut, and praised the
high standard of the conservation plan, but said they had taken a policy
decision not to support projects outside the United Kingdom.
For information about the Antarctic Heritage Trusts, go to their website