| 4 September 2007
Heritage will not halt road over Rotherwas Ribbon
Advisors from English Heritage have decided they are happy with Herefordshire Council's plans to continue building the road over the Rotherwas Ribbon Bronze Age site. Scientific advisors from the organisation have recommended that the engineering solution proposed by the council will provide long-term protection for the archaeological find. Work to preserve the Ribbon under layers of protective membranes and sand has already begun and further work can now be carried out. English Heritage is also considering financial support for further archaeological excavations outside of the road corridor to enable the Ribbon's history to be more fully understood.
Despite the advice from English Heritage, councillors still have to consider a range of options to discuss how the monument can be best safeguarded for future generations. These include abandoning the road, which the council says would cost £6 million, building a bridge at the cost of £10 million, or creating a £110 million tunnel underneath the Ribbon. A council's claim that taxpayers could be hit with a £110m bill to safeguard the site has been labelled 'ludicrous and misleading'. If any of these options are approved council officers are warning that the county faces serious financial challenges and other important projects would be halted. Instead, officers are recommending that the building of the road continues, at a cost of £400,000, and that the existing find is protected, in line with archaeological best practice. Additionally, the presumed course of the Ribbon, both north and south of the access road, should be investigated to ensure opportunities for tourism, heritage and education are explored.
But campaigners want the road to be diverted around the ancient feature, which they say could be as important an archaeological site as Stonehenge. Campaigner Bob Clay said of the £110m figure: "I do find it extraordinary. I think it's a case of building up a straw man to knock it down. That they've (the council) used the figure this way makes one suspicious of how they're approaching the whole matter. I think this is designed to mislead the public."
Source: Hereford Times, BBC News (30 August 2007)
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