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Calls for whisky regions also to be recognised

Forth Bridge gains its place as Scotland’s sixth global icon

Forth BridgeThe Forth Bridge has secured recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn.

The 125-year-old cantilever bridge, spanning spans the Firth of Forth, becomes Scotland’s sixth World Heritage site, joining Edinburgh Old and New Towns, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, New Lanark, the Antonine Wall and St Kilda.

When it was constructed it was one of the most ambitious projects of its kind ever attempted, and at its peak, more than 4,500 men were employed building it, with construction taking eight years to complete.

The bid for World Heritage Status was taken forward by the Forth Bridges Forum, established by the Scottish Government to promote the three Forth Bridges.

Welcoming UNESCO’s decision to inscribe the bridge, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Forth Bridge is known as one of the industrial wonders of the world, and it is fitting it has been recognised as one of Scotland’s six World Heritage Sites. I congratulate everyone involved in this bid.

“The Forth Bridge’s Inscription as a World Heritage Site is an honour, and true recognition of the Bridge’s unique place in Scotland’s history.

“The Forth Bridge is an outstanding example of Scotland’s built heritage and its endurance is testament not only to the ingenuity of those who designed and built it but also to the generations of painters, engineers and maintenance crews who have looked after it through the years.

“The Scottish Government, its agencies, individuals and organisations across the country work together to ensure our diverse historic environment – from the industrial heritage of the Forth Bridge and New Lanark to the Neolithic Heart of Orkney – is understood, valued, cared for and protected now, and for future generations.”

David Dickson, infrastructure director, Network Rail said: “Network Rail, as owner of the bridge, is honoured by UNESCO’s decision to inscribe the Forth Bridge as a World Heritage Site.

“The Forth Bridge is a prime example of civil engineering and an iconic structure, not only in Scotland but across the world.

“The awarding of the inscription is the culmination of a great deal of planning from a wide range of organisations and a testament to the hard work and dedication of those who built and continue to maintain the bridge.”

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “The Forth Bridge being awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status is an outstanding achievement and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in putting together the successful application.

“As far as potential visitors to Scotland are concerned, World Heritage Site status lends even greater aura and appeal to one of the planet’s most instantly recognisable landmarks. And the timing is perfect as, in 2016, this country will celebrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design and you would be hard-pushed to find a better example of all three qualities anywhere in the world than in the Forth Bridge.”

Scotland’s Food Secretary Richard Lochhead now wants Scotland’s whisky regions to be recognised as world heritage sites, following the announcement that the French region of Champagne has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

He said the industry and its stakeholders – including the Scottish Government – should seize this opportunity to learn from the steps taken by Champagne, and the producers in the region, that will enable Scotland to have its six popular whisky regions to receive the same level of recognition.

Mr Lochhead said: “This is excellent news for Champagne, and rightfully deserved – and I now hope this could open up a golden opportunity for Scotland’s many whisky-producing regions.

“The Scotch whisky industry is iconic and world-famous, steeped in tradition and craft. It’s now time for the industry and public sector to investigate the Champagne region’s success and see what we can learn from it, for the benefit of Scotland.

“Champagne is an iconic product, recognised the world over – Scotch whisky is just as iconic, if not more. This is Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink – there is no better time than now to push forward and work towards our whisky-producing regions receiving the same level of recognition from UNESCO as Champagne and Burgundy in France.”

Scotland has six whisky regions: Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, Highlands, Islands and Lowlands.

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