An inspection programme designed to assess the condition and the impact of climate change on some of Scotland's most significant heritage sites is getting under way.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the public body responsible for 336 historic buildings and sites, is rolling-out the new programme of tactile condition surveys in response to concerns over the deterioration of high-level masonry caused by several combined factors, including the materials used during construction, age, physical location and climate change.

Inspections and sample surveys conducted by HES last year uncovered a range of decay on high-level building fabric, creating a risk of falling masonry and potential injury. To protect staff and visitors, access has been restricted at many of the affected sites, though every effort has been made to enable visitor access where this can be done safely.

HES has created an indicative prioritisation which will inform the inspection schedule, with considerable preparatory work already underway. Priority will be given to surveying sites where it is difficult to fully mitigate all risks to public safety such as where the nature or location of a site presents a particular challenge or where adjacent land owned by a third party may be affected. Sites where access restrictions are having a significant adverse community and economic impact will also be prioritised this year.

The surveys will provide a detailed and accurate picture of properties' condition and will inform a subsequent programme of repairs, conservation work, adaptation measures, interventions and new ways of caring for these historic assets. The surveys are being undertaken by specialist HES technical staff and will be literally "hands on".

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