The Stonehenge Alliance is a group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS) and opposes development that would cause it significant harm.
Through its Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site campaign, the Alliance is concentrating its efforts on opposing the proposal for dualling the A303 including a short tunnel across Stonehenge WHS announced in December 2014, which would result in serious damage to the WHS landscape. This action includes our petitions to the Secretaries of State for Transport and Culture which continues to attract supporters from the UK and around the world.
The Stonehenge Alliance supported the Save Stonehenge WHS Ltd legal challenge to the road scheme and will continue to do so if necessary.
We raise awareness of the likelihood of Stonehenge’s loss of World Heritage Site status and its wider impact should UNESCO’s advice continue to be ignored.
- lobbied government at all levels and all relevant departments,
- held challenging dialogue with Highways England, the promoters of the road scheme,
- collaborated with over 90 members of the National Trust who object to the scheme,
- engaged with campaign supporters from over 100 countries, represent all walks of life and backgrounds, hold a variety of beliefs or none and yet are united by the spirit of the World Heritage Site, and
- supported and helped to raise funds for Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site Ltd’s successful legal challenge to the Transport Secretary’s decision to grant a Development Consent Order for the road scheme in November 2020.
Together, our supporters and Alliance partners express the truth about the World Heritage Site’s Outstanding Universal Value.
We believe that these actions are effective and have caused government to be concerned about our wide reach.
The long-term supporter-organisations of the Alliance are:
- Ancient Sacred Landscape Network (ASLaN)
- Campaign for Better Transport (Formerly Transport 2000) whose road campaigning was succeeded by the newly created Transport Action Network
- Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Wiltshire Branch of CPRE
- Friends of the Earth (FOE) with FOE South West
- Rescue: The British Archaeological Trust
- Transport Action Network
We are fortunate and most grateful to John Adams OBE, a director of Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site Ltd, for agreeing to step into the role of Acting Chair of the Stonehenge Alliance in 2021. John describes himself as a “serial trustee” and has had a highly regarded career in the voluntary and community sector in Wiltshire and nationally. More about John’s public service here. Follow his tweets: @JohnAdamsEbble
We are sorry to announce that our fellow-campaigner and distinguished chairman George McDonic MBE, BL, DIPLTP, FRTPI, DPA, FFB died on 14 February 2021. He took over the position in 2006 from our founder and past president the late Lord Kennet. George McDonic, was a respected planning consultant, a barrister, a past president of the RTPI, held the post of Wiltshire’s Chief Planning Officer prior to its unitary status, and was former chairman of the Wiltshire branch of CPRE.
Our president Tom Holland, is author, classicist, historian, broadcaster and co-host of the podcast ‘The Rest is History‘. Tom has produced short videos for our campaign and continuously helps to raise our campaign profile in social media.
Tom is author of Dominion, the Making of the Western Mind which has won high praise; Rubicon: The Triumph and the Tragedy of the Roman Republic, won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; Persian Fire, his history of the Graeco-Persian wars, won the Anglo-Hellenic League’s Runciman Award in 2006. Tom has been a staunch opponent of the proposed Stonehenge road tunnel since hearing about the scheme on our newly launched twitter page in November 2014. He said of the Stonehenge tunnel:
“The issue is whether Stonehenge exists to provide a tourist experience, or whether it is something more significant, both historically and spiritually. It has stood there for 4,500 years. And up to now, no one’s thought of injecting enormous quantities of concrete into the landscape and permanently disfiguring it.” 2017, Wikipedia
Follow Tom Holland on @holland_tom
Taking action on the world stage
The Stonehenge Alliance is a member of World Heritage Watch.
In 2017 and 2019 we engaged on the world stage through our membership of World Heritage Watch Forum in Kraków and Paris where we presented our campaign. In 2020 the WHW Forum was held on line where we were able to present an update. WHW has facilitated our greater involvement with UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre.
UNESCO – We were accepted as observers at the World Heritage Committee meeting at which UNESCO first recommended that the UK re-thinks the A303 scheme. That advice was repeated by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in 2018, 2019 and 2021 but the scheme proposers have continued to ignore it.
Our Petition has been translated into several languages by our supporters here.
The Stonehenge Alliance was originally constituted in 2001 to oppose the Highways Agency’s previous scheme for widening the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down which included a short, 2.1km bored tunnel close to the Stones and 3.3km of above-ground dual carriageway within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS). That scheme, examined at a Public Inquiry in 2004, was abandoned by the Government in 2007 owing to cost and unforeseen technical problems relating to tunnelling close to the surface through ‘soft chalk’, a concern that our hydrogeologist drew to the Public Inquiry’s attention.
Since then, the Alliance has concentrated its efforts on helping to achieve closure of the A344/A303 road junction (finally undertaken in 2013) and arguing for small-scale improvements to safety and traffic flow on the A303 – which we have not yet seen fully implemented. We also argued for a sustainable new visitor centre and are disappointed that this facility and its large vehicle parks were not located outside the WHS as we had suggested. In the event, a large tract of hitherto open countryside in the WHS is visually blighted by development, and problems have arisen with the visitor-transit system, requiring the use of replacement buses.
We have objected to various other planning proposals affecting the WHS such as the extension to the tarmac on the visitor-car park and the increased size of the coach park, arguing that it would be more appropriate and satisfactory to use a park and ride system, perhaps located closer to Amesbury, for the benefit of local businesses and to allow a reduction in traffic on the A303 as well as partial restoration of the WHS landscape.
Save Stonehenge! website 1998 – 2007
The predecessor to the Stonehenge Alliance was a loose alliance of objectors to further damage to the World Heritage Site who would gather from time to time. Articles and papers were published on a dedicated Save Stonehenge! website. Although a number of links to statements by statutory bodies no longer work, this is a valuable historical record that includes media articles starting from 1998.
The website was archived by its founder, the UK Rivers Trust, and can be found here.
Timeline of road widening proposals since inscription by UNESCO in 1985 to present time is available here.
Article by our co-founders, Elizabeth Young and Wayland Kennet, former Chairman, and first President of Stonehenge Alliance in the Journal of Architectural Conservation, No 3 November 2000, pp.70-85 has been reproduced by kind permission of the Young family.
Please note: The Stonehenge Alliance has no connection with any other protest groups involved in direct action against A303 Stonehenge.