|13 December 2014
Stonehenge road tunnel plan revisited
Reaction to the UK government's proposal to bury the A303 carriageway in a tunnel within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site is deeply split, with English Heritage and the National Trust accused of accepting a tunnel far too short to solve any problems.
Kate Fielden, an archaeologist and member of the Stonehenge Alliance which represents conservation, archaeology, and other groups says: "The short tunnel plan will create serious damage to the landscape on each side, within the world heritage site which the government is ignoring its commitment to protect."
Fielden accuses English Heritage, which cares for the stone circle and owns the visitor centre opened last year, and the National Trust, which owns thousands of acres of surrounding farmland, of abusing their responsibility to care for the site. The Alliance has launched a petition for a tunnel at least twice the length the government proposed.
Mike Heyworth, director of the Council for British Archaeology, has said a tunnel with both entrance and exits within the world heritage site, "would have major implications for the archaeology - we should be asking whether a major expansion of the roads network at Stonehenge just to meet traffic needs is the most appropriate way to deal with such a site."
Mike Birkin of Friends of the Earth said UK transport policy was heading in the wrong direction: "There is nothing to celebrate about a proposal that would inflict at least a mile of massively damaging road building on the surface of our most iconic world heritage site. We have a global duty to safeguard the whole site. The international bodies who hold legal responsibility for world heritage sites have not even been consulted - and there are grave concerns about the damage a short tunnel could cause."
Arguments over what to do about the road, a crucial route from London to the south-west, stretch back more than half a century.
Edited from The Guardian (1 December 2014)
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