World Heritage Watch (WHW) Report 2023, published in May, is dominated by the first heartbreaking reports, compiled by local NGOs and experts, of damage to the four World Heritage Sites (WHSs) in areas of Turkey and Syria devastated by the February earthquake,
There are other examples of injury to WHSs through wanton neglect and state-sanctioned activities around the world, including in the UK. WHW reports provide wake-up calls, urging UNESCO and the world community to take timely action, and tirelessly insist that governments deliver on their commitments.
Stonehenge is included in the Report
In prime position among causes for concern in the Monuments and Sites section is that of Stonehenge. The Stonehenge Alliance provides an update on the threatened WHS by Kate Fielden. While the UK Government’s damaging plan for road widening and a tunnel across the World Heritage landscape awaits redetermination by the Secretary of State for Transport, National Highways would have it go ahead as originally proposed, with no changes made since the damning High Court ruling of July 2021.
Since the High Court Judgment
Kate chronicles the developments over the past two years – the renewed consultation on the scheme and the responses from National Highways and others on longer tunnel alternatives, updated environmental information and, in view of the Government’s climate change commitments, the potential impacts of carbon emissions. Recent developments include the November 2022 National Audit Office report criticising National Highways for exceeding its budget for road infrastructure expenditure by billions of pounds. Kate also rounds up Stonehenge Alliance’s campaign activity, from demonstrations outside the British Museum, to a busy social media presence.
Politicisation of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee
She concludes by endorsing a point WHW makes in the introduction to its report, that UNESCO itself is becoming increasingly open to political influence, with a growing number of decisions undermining and sacrificing World Heritage preservation.
“We, like others, are deeply concerned about the politicisation of the World Heritage Committee.”Please share