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15 December 2007
Stonehenge: so what now?

As plans for the Stonehenge tunnel scheme lay in tatters this week, Salisbury MP Robert Key called on government ministers to set up a Stakeholder Task Force to piece together new solutions to the problems of the World Heritage site and the area's traffic nightmare. For more than 20 years, both Labour and Tory governments have struggled to find an acceptable scheme for restoring the ancient stones to their original setting and easing traffic congestion on the A303 West Country holiday route that runs past the monument. And the latest project bit the dust when Transport Minister Tom Harris scrapped the controversial proposal to bury the A303 in a 2.1km tunnel.
     Mr Key, who has been the area's MP since 1983, and was once Minister for Culture and for Roads, branded the collapse of the tunnel scheme as a "tragedy and a setback for the economy of the south west of England." He said the unwillingness of the government to fund its own road proposals represented a breakdown in the machinery of government.
"The Government must still honour its promise to UNESCO to close the A334 past the stones and upgrade the very poor visitor facilities. They must also upgrade the A303 and install electronic traffic management," he added.
     Calling for the setting up of a stakeholder task force, Mr Key added: "The Government should consider the option proposed ten years ago of a new visitors' centre and car park in the dip in the downs 1km to the west of the stones, accessed from the existing A344 from Airman's Corner. This semi-permanent solution would allow new strategic consideration of how to upgrade the A303 and remove it from the landscape of Stonehenge."

Source: Salisbury Journal (13 December 2007)

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