Last Saturday, the National Trust AGM debated a motion about the National Trust’s involvement In the design and construction of the Stonehenge tunnel and above ground sections of the A303 Expressway.
The members’ motion asked the Trustees to reaffirm its founding purposes to protect special places; to respect World Heritage Convention obligations and to acknowledge that any scheme that involves surface engineering across any part of the WHS will damage the WHS, in the Trust’s own phrase “For Ever”.
Members voted by a fairly narrow margin to maintain the Trust’s support for Highways England’s preferred route: a short tunnel past the Stones with about a mile of new dual carriageway through the World Heritage Site.
While the Trust won the vote, it wasn’t by a convincing margin. Over 42% of those who voted (excluding abstentions) wanted the Trust to review its position. If the 11,089 abstentions were included, fewer than 50% were against the Resolution. This must give the Trust pause for thought.
You can view the results of the voting papers submitted by 1.3% of the Trust’s five million members that participated here.
The votes cast by the Chairman as proxy ensured the motion was lost before the meeting. Members who voted in this way had not been made aware in the Trust’s written response to the motion that UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee had urged the Government to look at further options for widening the A303 “with a view to avoiding impacts on the OUV [outstanding universal value] of the property”, including a bypass and “longer tunnel options to remove dual carriageway cuttings from the property”.
Worryingly, Highways England is ploughing on regardless, ignoring the advice of UNESCO
Watch this space!
WATCH THE DEBATE
Kate Fielden proposes the motion
Tom Holland seconds the motion
Carys Swanwick opposes the motion
Tom Oliver quotes from the National Trust’s own guidance
A young resident speaks up for the next generation
Kate Freeman asks whether independent advice about the longevity of the scheme had been sought
Ian Wilson, Assistant Director responsible for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, replies on behalf of the National Trust
David Wilson suggests strengthening the National Trust’s negotiating hand
Cate LeGrice Mack points out strategic shortcomings
Professor Carys Swanwick concludes the case against on behalf of the Board of Trustees
Kate Fielden makes final comments and appeals to members to vote for the motion
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