Response to Highways England consultation

To read our response to the Highways England A303 Stonehenge consultation please link here.

Our position

The Stonehenge Alliance has produced the following statement clarifying its position on the Government’s proposals to expand the A303 at Stonehenge and the length of tunnel if the A303 widening is to go ahead:

In common with others, the Alliance and its member organisations wish to see the tranquillity and appearance of the Stonehenge landscape improved. Protection of the World Heritage Site (WHS) landscape, extending to around the Stones and recognised to be of outstanding universal value, is paramount.

The driving force for any activity within the WHS should be heritage, not the relief of congestion or stimulation of economic activity. We are mindful of widely accepted studies that relief of congestion or stimulation of the economy are insufficient justification in themselves for increasing road capacity. Evidence shows that these benefits are often not realised in practice. Smaller, more targeted interventions could deter problems of rat-running through local villages and avoid traffic jams near Stonehenge at busy times and should be introduced now.

The UK body of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS-UK), advisers to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, has expressed its own concerns about the Government proposals for a 2.9km tunnel and at least 1.6km of new dual carriageway within the WHS.

Should A303 widening with a tunnel be considered necessary a 4.5km tunnel, starting within the already dualled eastern section of the A303 and passing south of the Stones, would avoid a new road on the surface within the WHS and need not damage the site further. Ideally, we would advocate a considerably longer tunnel of at least 6km, to allow restoration of the whole WHS and its setting. Such a tunnel would meet Government’s duty under the World Heritage Convention as well as its planning policy and guidance for our WHSs.

Over recent months we have learned more about the discoveries emerging from the 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. We cannot change the wording of our petition but our intention to avoid further damage is clearly stated in the petition.