Stonehenge: Temporary Stay of Execution
Good news for Stonehenge for the present.
UNESCO’S World Heritage Committee has called on the UK Government to rethink plans to build a 2.9 km tunnel for a widened A303 past Stonehenge. Representatives on the Committee from 21 countries agreed with UNESCO’s 2017 Advisory Mission’s report that the benefits of a 2.9 km tunnel to the center of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS) cannot be offset against the damage it would cause to other parts of the site. Many of these areas have yet to be explored. Unknown relics could be lost forever if a tunnel were built.
Stonehenge Alliance representatives were present to hear the decision that firmly signalled to the UK Government that the Outstanding Universal Value of the WHS must be fully respected.
The Government must “explore further options with a view to avoiding impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property,” including a southern bypass for the A303 or a longer tunnel “to remove dual carriageway cuttings from the property.”
Kate Fielden, Hon. Sec. to the Alliance and representative for RESCUE and CPRE Wiltshire said: It is very heartening that our concerns about the A303 widening project that we have voiced over many years are now being addressed by UNESCO.
It is to be hoped that the Government will wish to adopt a more considered approach at Stonehenge that meets the demands of the 1972 World Heritage Convention for conservation, protection and rehabilitation of the whole WHS for future generations to enjoy.
Kate Freeman from Friends of the Earth South West and manager of the Alliance’s social media said: The UNESCO report was critical of the inadequacy of meaningful involvement of the top archaeology specialists and the wider community, including ourselves.
We look forward to engaging positively in future discussions about solutions for the WHS.
The Government has seven months in which to demonstrate its commitment to our country’s most iconic World Heritage Site.
For more details, please see: http://stonehengealliance.org.uk/
Sadly, this is by far not the only historical or significant site in the world that is at risk. Other sites remain at risk due to war, weather, and government politics. The United States is currently at a pivotal point where protected lands may become less protected. As news unfolds, there certainly will be blogs regarding these developments.
When I started to write the Jamie Poole series, I never imagined becoming an advocate for places like this. It would truly be a tragedy if we did not leave places like this to be discovered and enjoyed by future generations.