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UNESCO ignored, as damaging Stonehenge scheme announced

11 September 2017 

The Stonehenge Alliance and Campaign for Better Transport have expressed shock at Highways England’s A303 Stonehenge preferred route announcement today.

The proposed scheme, at huge expense (£1.6 billion), will cause severe and permanent damage to the archaeological landscape of the World Heritage Site (WHS) in direct conflict with international advice to the UK Government earlier this year. 

Kate Fielden of CPRE and RESCUE said: “We are shocked at Highways England’s indifference to UNESCO’s advice. The project needs a complete re-think, not a minor tweak which still threatens major harm to this iconic landscape. The potential risk of loss of Stonehenge’s World Heritage Status casts shame upon our country and those responsible for caring for our heritage.”

Chris Todd from Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Progressing with this damaging scheme in the face of the concerns raised by UNESCO is a gravely flawed decision. The scheme either needs to be abandoned altogether, or the whole process rerun with a full range of options which do not result in any harm to the World Heritage Site, including non-road building solutions."

The proposed 2.9km (1.8 mile) tunnel would leave some 2.5km (c.1.6 miles) of four-lane expressway, substantially in cuttings, well within the WHS with very serious implications for the Mesolithic site of Blick Mead, as well as a number of sites of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages for which the WHS designation was given.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee previously urged the Government to explore options that would not impact on the outstanding significance of the Site, including a southern bypass and “longer tunnel options to remove dual carriageway cuttings from the property”.


For more information please contact: 

Kate Fielden, CPRE Wiltshire Branch and RESCUE: 01672 851859

Alice Ridley, Campaign for Better Transport: 07984 773468

For Tony Robinson: via Agent, Julie, at 0207 580 5741

For more information, please see our website at www.stonehengealliance.org.uk.


Notes to editors

(1) The Stonehenge Alliance is supported by Ancient Sacred Landscape Network, Campaign for Better Transport, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth and RESCUE: The British Archaeological Trust.

(2) Stonehenge Decision, 41st Session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, 6 July 2017. http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2017/whc17-41com-18-en.pdf, p.139, No.56.

(3) UNESCO made it clear in reporting to the Committee that: “It is not considered satisfactory to suggest that the benefits from a 2.9km tunnel to the centre of the property can offset significant damage from lengths of four lane approach roads in cuttings elsewhere in the property.”