North West Wales

Gwynedd slate industry's world heritage status boost

Slate quarry
Image caption Gwynedd's slate industry is one of 11 UK contenders

Efforts to win World Heritage Site status for north Wales' slate industry have been boosted after it was put on a UK shortlist for potential nominations.

A bid was submitted last year by supporters who say the industry has shaped the social, political, economic and cultural landscape of Wales.

A World Heritage Site is chosen for its outstanding universal value to culture, history or science.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said heritage status would boost tourism.

Gwynedd's slate industry is one of the final 11 contenders announced by UK Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose to form the new tentative list for potential nominations for the status.

The 11 sites have been whittled down from 38.

Nominations from the list will be submitted from 2012 based on the strength of their case.

Mrs Gillan said the slate industry had played a dominant role in shaping the landscape and economy of north Wales since the 19th Century.

"Tourism is vitally important to the north Wales economy," she said bringing in up to £1.8bn of income to the region and supporting around 37,000 jobs.

'Global significance'

"Heritage status would help show the world just what Wales has to offer - from areas of outstanding beauty to dramatic industrial heritage."

Gwynedd council leader Dyfed Edwards said: "I am delighted that the government has recognised the global significance of the Gwynedd slate quarrying industry, and am now looking forward to working with Gwynedd's slate communities and our partners to develop our submission to Unesco."

The entire process of being selected for world heritage status can take between five and 10 years.

The bid must now move onto a nomination list where it will be assessed by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

If successful, the application is then judged by the World Heritage Committee, which meets once a year to decide which sites will be inscribed on the world heritage List.

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