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No More Polluter Pays Principle: opportunities and challenges of public benefit provision in UK development-led archaeology

Kenneth Aitchison

Cite this as: Aitchison, K. 2021 No More Polluter Pays Principle: opportunities and challenges of public benefit provision in UK development-led archaeology, Internet Archaeology 57.


Crossrail Archaeology Dig
Crossrail archaeology excavations. Matt Brown (CC BY 2.0)

Key to the success of archaeological projects and the provision of public benefit as a result is partnership working, whether between archaeological practices, consultants or departments within larger organisations, commercial clients or regulatory bodies. This paper presents case studies from each of these as examples of successful public benefit from development-led archaeology and outlines the move away from the 'polluter pays' principle towards a more nuanced understanding of what archaeology can provide. A Postscript refers to the Planning White Paper in the UK, which could have significant implications for how archaeology is treated within the planning system.

Corresponding author: Kenneth AitchisonORCID logo
FAME (Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers)

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Figure 1: Stratigraphy at Leadenhall Street. Tim Neighbour, James Drummond-Murray, Alex Bayliss in background. Photo by Jerry Youle. Location:,-0.0855139,17z

Figure 2: Bronze Age monument 200, originally assumed to be a henge, during excavations for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme beside the A1, Cambridgeshire. Location:,-0.280687,11.19z Image: MOLA Headland Infrastructure for Highways England 2018

Figure 3: Crossrail archaeology excavations. Photo by Matt Brown (CC BY 2.0). Location:,-0.0836261,17z

Figure 4: Bloomberg archaeology excavation in progress at the Bloomberg site in 2012, looking north, with 1 Poultry to the left and St Stephen Walbrook church to the right of the site. Image: MOLA for Bloomberg L.P. Location:,-0.0931317,17z

Figure 5: The front cover of Scotland's Archaeology Strategy. Historic vessel recording by maritime archaeologists at Loch Fyne 2015. Photo by Jonathan Benjamin. Location:,-4.9522857,13.71z

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