Mike Bowden CEng.MIMechE, an octogenarian campaign supporter, shared his exchange with Highways England about their Supplementary Consultation.

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Re: Highways England response – Your enquiry about the A303 Stonehenge – ref 0808180

15 August 2018

Dear Heather Price,

Thank you for your response, but I have to take issue with it.
 
The fundamental objection from myself and other respondents, totally backed up by the report of the UNESCO expert panel, is that the Highways Englands proposal is starting from the wrong premise, i.e. to improve the flow of traffic within financial constraints. It is clear that only this one plan is up for consideration and Highways will only consider that and small variations to it.
 
The scheme should start not from the needs of traffic but from the needs of the wider Stonehenge site.
I am open to expert advice, but, based on what knowledge I have, the core thing is to remove all traffic disturbance from the site, i.e. from roughly Longbarrow Roundabout to Countess Roundabout and from north of the Curcus to south of the Tumuli that are south of the A303.
 
Highways responses have completely ignored this central question so I fail to see how it can be said that my (and others) responses have not been ignored. They may have been read, but they have not been acted on.
If they have been considered, where is the detailed factual reasoning for rejection?
Have Highways considered other design options and their costings?
Have Highways proposed other solutions to government? Especially ones that could enhance and protect the site more fully?
I have looked on the web and see I am not the only one to suggest a loop road, to the north in my case, but both north and south from others.
A much longer tunnel has been mooted as well.
What advice has Highways sought from archaeological experts? What was their advice?
 
I had hoped that by discussion Highways England would engage with responders on this without publicity. I am sure we would have engaged constructively in raising the subject to government level, where, because of finance, the real decision must be made. I cannot see anything but a noisy public fight ensuing if the present plans are submitted.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
M. J. Bowden.
CEng.MIMechE
On 15 Aug 2018, at 11:10, A303Stonehenge <A303Stonehenge@highwaysengland.co.uk> wrote:
Dear Mr Bowden
 
Thank you for your email of 8 August in relation to the supplementary consultation for the A303 Stonehenge scheme.
 
I’m sorry to hear that you’re concerned your previous consultation response was ignored, and I’d like to assure you that this isn’t the case.
 
We’re still continuing to review and refine the scheme proposals, taking into consideration the feedback we’ve already received and the results of ongoing surveys and assessments. For now, we have identified those changes on which we would welcome further views before determining what we take forward as part of our application for development consent. We’re still assessing the merits of other potential changes and have enough feedback from the earlier consultation to inform our consideration. 
 
We’ll be publishing a report on both consultations, setting out the feedback received and our response to the feedback, when we submit our application for development consent to the Planning Inspectorate later this year.
 
I hope this has provided some reassurance, and thank you again for taking the time to contact us. If you have any further questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0300 123 5000 or email A303Stonehenge@highwaysengland.co.uk.
 
Kind regards
 
Heather Price, A303 Stonehenge Correspondence Officer
Highways England | Temple Quay House | 2 The Square | Temple Quay | Bristol | BS1 6HA
 
We’d love to get your feedback about our reply to you today, simply click here to complete our short survey.
 

From Mike Bowden

To A303Stonehenge@highwaysengland.co.uk

cc SaveStonehenge@gmail.com

Re: A303 Stonehenge scheme – Supplementary consultation on proposed updates

8 August

Dear Mr Parody,

I have looked at your changes and they are playing at the edges while totally ignoring the main thrust of the very serious reservations made to you by knowledgeable people and organisations about preserving, protecting and enhancing this unique world heritage site.
I see it as a waste of time to comment on your minor changes when your scheme will produce irreparable damage to Stonehenge and the wider site, and reduce it’s asset value to the nation.
The Unesco report makes it completely clear that Highways proposals are wrong, will damage the site, and risk losing WHS status.
Your email below seeking views smacks of a standard response and ignores the original response and suggestions based on my lifelong experience of the site. I therefore repeat my original response and ask that you deal with the points raised. As I said above, I know I am not alone.
Put simply, the Highways scheme is inadequate. I assume Highways is cash limited so the solution is not in your hands. It lies in the hands of politicians and I suggest you put it on their plate.
Yours sincerely,
M.J. Bowden.
Ceng.MIMechE

Response to Highways England’s A303 Stonehenge Consultation 2018

Dear Madam/Sir,

Response to Highways England’s A303 Stonehenge Consultation 2018

I have seen the CPRE paper on the scheme.

I am sure you will receive lots of comments on the major flaws of the scheme, but I approach it from a different viewpoint based on experience which only octogenarians like myself can have.

I make two points.

First, in the 1950’s I regularly cycled along the A303 (and the A360) past Stonehenge. I saw it in the morning mist when I could almost hear the clank of roman armour as a legion passed by. I saw it as the sun set and imagined neolithic gatherings and celebrations. No cars, no people, just nature and history. Occasionally I would divert and touch the stones (as you could do) to feel the magic of the place. I and my peers were very lucky as this atmosphere has been lost as traffic and commercial activity increased.
I have passed it many times since by car and it still evokes wonder but not to the same depth. Two years ago my wife and I spent a whole day walking to the extremities of the extended site to see some of the later discoveries.

Second, This is such a unique and important world site with many, as yet, uncovered secrets, that only vandals would propose cutting through. Do we, as a country, really want to be branded as barbarians who degrade and despoil a unique international treasure?

Third, Look to the future. We are guardians of our origins and protector of the future for our children. Have some spirit and vision of what the future could hold if only you are bold enough. Stonehenge is of vastly more value than the cheapest easement of a traffic problem.

Return the problem to the political and public sphere to seek support for a long term solution that will not degrade Stonehenge and, most importantly, the surroundings. Aim to re-establish that quiet peacefulness that I experienced.
As a minimum solution look to take ALL traffic out of sight and sound of the stones. Something like a loop on the general line of Bulford – Larkhill – Shrewton – Mere, then close the A303 past the stones completely. It will cost more but the country can afford it and there will be praise all round.
Better still, move all the facilities (except loos) at least a mile away. Transport to the site by electric vehicle, walk or cycle. No cars, no bustle. Make the site available early morning and evenings when the atmosphere is best. 

Yours Faithfully,

M. J. Bowden.
CEng. MIMechE.
On 17 Jul 2018, at 09:32, A303Stonehenge <A303Stonehenge@highwaysengland.co.uk> wrote:
Dear Sir or Madam
 
Earlier this year you contributed your feedback to our consultation on improving the A303 past Stonehenge, between Amesbury and Berwick Down. We’ve been using the feedback we received to further develop our plans.
 
From this, we’ve identified three changes on which we would welcome your views before we submit our application to build the scheme.
 
These are:
– To remove the previously proposed link between Byways 11 and 12 in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site
– To widen the green bridge proposed near the existing Longbarrow roundabout
– To move the proposed modification to Rollestone crossroads.
 
A number of people also asked us to clarify our public rights of way proposals along the scheme, so we’re taking this opportunity to do this.
 
Supplementary consultation on the proposed changes runs from 17 July 2018 to 14 August 2018.

You’re welcome to view all the latest documentation and submit your feedback on the scheme online. We’ve updated the scheme website and consultation page.
 
We look forward to hearing your views.
 
Kind regards
 
Derek Parody, Project Director
Highways England | Temple Quay House | 2 The Square, Temple Quay | Bristol | BS1 6HA
Web:
http://www.highways.gov.uk
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