What are we saving and why?
The Government proposes to widen the A303 trunk road to the south west. The 4-lane carriageway, tunnel, slip roads and trenches would cross the iconic Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS): a landscape that is considered “the most archaeologically significant land surface in Europe without parallel”. The whole Stonehenge landscape has an outstanding universal value that is of immense significance for all people for all time, and this transcends any consideration of sorting out a 21st century part-time traffic jam.
The whole site, extending to beyond the horizons around the famous stones themselves, is c. 5.4 km across. All of it makes up a “huge ancient complex” that holds many secrets yet to be discovered. Yet the proposal is for a 2.9km (1.8 mile) tunnel (see map above). It would result in at least 1.6 km of above-ground 21st-century road engineering within the WHS.
All archaeology in the construction zones would be destroyed and the A303 would become the largest ever human intervention in an area fashioned and revered by over a hundred generations of our ancestors. and cause irreparable damage to the WHS in breach of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and ignores UNESCO’s firm advice in 2017.
Our response to Highways England’s options consultation for the A303 Stonehenge in 2017 can be read here.
Petition and wording
We set up a petition in 2014 when the scheme was announced as part of a £15bn road investment fund. Since setting up the petition, we have learned more about the recently discovered Mesolithic site at Blick Mead. This has led us to consider that if Government insists on a tunnel under the WHS, it must be long enough to avoid the WHS and its setting altogether. This would be in line with planning policy and World Heritage Convention safeguards. We cannot change the wording of the petition but road widening without further damage to the WHS is clearly expressed in the petition and its justification.
No further damage should be done to the archaeological landscape of Stonehenge.
Future generations would be appalled at those who decided that road widening should be at the expense of England’s most iconic World Heritage Site.
If A303 widening at Stonehenge is felt to be essential it should be done by means of a deep bored tunnel at least 4.5km long. Anything shorter would cause irreparable damage to this landscape, in breach of the World Heritage Convention.
Our responses to several myths explain our position on road widening by Stonehenge WHS.
Stonehenge Saga: timeline
After receipt of the application, there will be 28 days for the Planning Inspectorate to review the application and decide whether or not to accept it for examination. If the application is accepted, we will confirm the timescale within which people can register to become an Interested Party by making a Relevant Representation.
- 2021 (Planned) – Start on site
- Late 2018 (Planned) – Submit planning application to Planning Inspectorate. There will be 28 days for the Planning Inspectorate to review the application and decide whether or not to accept it for examination. If the application is accepted, the timescale will be published within which people can register to become an “Interested Party” by making a “Relevant Representation”.
- 8 February to 23 April 2018 – Statutory consultation on proposed scheme
- September 2017 – Announcement of preferred route
- 12 January to 5 March 2017 – Non-statutory consultation on route options
- 2015-2016 – Route assessment and identification
- 2014 – Scheme included in the Roads Investment Strategy
- 2013 – A303 feasibility study announced as part of the Autumn Statement
- 2007 – Withdrawn from roads programme – Conservation groups joint statement
- 2005 – Review of options after substantial increase in estimated costs
- 2004 – Public inquiry
- 2002 – 2.1km initially cut and cover, then short bored tunnel announced < Stonehenge Alliance formed
- 1999 – Preferred route announced
- 1998 – Scheme re-introduced to roads programme
- 1996 – Scheme withdrawn from roads programme
- 1995 – Planning Conference – Salisbury
- 1994 – 1995 – Further route identification
- 1994 – International conference by English Heritage “Stonehenge: The Great Debate” London – National Trust commit to a long bored tunnel
- 1993 – Public consultation
- 1991 – 1993 – Initial route identification for improvements to A303
- 1986 – Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site inscribed by UNESCO