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27 August 2006
Blair urged to act over Stonehenge

British Prime Minister Tony Blair should intervene in the 'disgrace' of the Stonehenge road saga, the RAC Foundation has said. The foundation favours putting the A303 at the Wiltshire site into a deep-bored tunnel - a 510 million option being re-examined by the Government on cost grounds. The foundation said it had written to Mr Blair, asking him to "cut through departmental inertia and get some action".
     A 1.3 mile tunnel was recommended after a public inquiry, but was put on hold by the Department for Transport because of the rising cost of the scheme. The foundation said a tunnel had substantial support across the archaeological spectrum, including English Heritage, the UK Committee of UNESCO, the Society of Antiquaries of London, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Archaeology and archaeologists specifically concerned with Stonehenge. The tunnel option is also backed by local councils, local MPs, tourist bodies and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
     In his letter to Mr Blair, RAC Foundation chairman David Holmes said: "I am writing to appeal to you to resolve the indecision which is delaying a desperately needed improvement to a major route to the south west, and preventing the Stonehenge World Heritage Site from being restored to the setting which it deserves. Only you have the authority to cut through departmental inertia and get some action." Amid cost concerns the Department for Transport is re-examining options that were ruled out by the public inquiry. Holmes said this was "a backwards step, as any of these alternatives would have to be the subject of further consultation and full public inquiries". Progress could be delayed "for a decade or more", he warned.

Sources: Press Association, The Guardian, ePolitix.com (25 August 2006)

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