15 September 2023: UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC), meeting in Riyadh since 10th September, has stuck to its guns and sent a strong message to the UK Government about its concern for Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS). It remains firmly opposed to the dualling of the A303 through Stonehenge WHS which will cause permanent and irreversible harm. Our colleagues read out our statement welcoming UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in Riyadh position to stand firm. Nevertheless, the situation is precarious, contracts have been let and Stonehenge World Heritage Site could lose its World Heritage Status if the road is constructed. Government needs to report back in February 2024.
“Stonehenge World Heritage Site is in danger now.”
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meeting in Riyadh reinforced their earlier decision which expressed “profound regret that the Scheme has been granted a DCO [Development Consent Order] without having been modified in accordance with previous Committee decisions and the recommendations of the 2022 mission,” and reiterates its previous request that “the State Party (UK Government) not proceed with the implementation of the Scheme for the section between Amesbury and Berwick Down in its current form.”
The Committee has asked the UK Government to submit “by 1 February 2024 an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session.” The Committee reminded the UK Government that the property might be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger if the property’s Outstanding Universal Value is not preserved.
Only three UNESCO properties have ever had their world heritage status deleted:
- Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany (delisted in2009);
- Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman (delisted in 2007);
- Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City (delisted in 2021).
It would be an international embarrassment and dishonour if the UK were to lose a second WHS badge under this government.
Statement by Stonehenge Alliance
The Stonehenge Alliance would like to thank UNESCO for its concern over Stonehenge. A concern shared by over 225,000 people from 147 countries around the world.
Stonehenge World Heritage Site is in danger NOW, with the legal action challenging the State Party’s decision the onlything keeping the bulldozers off the Site. We can only hope that it succeeds, because placing the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2024 could be too late.
Construction contracts have already been signed and it is clear the State Party has no intention of changing its mind. The Committee has given the State Party plenty of opportunities to do so and it has ignored every one of them.
We urge the Committee to stand firm in the face of such intransigence and to maintain pressure on the State Party to withdraw the scheme. We will have a new Government within the next 12 months and having a clear and consistent position from UNESCO on the unsuitability of these proposals, should help it come to a better solution and protect the site for future generations.
- UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee decision can be found here.
- BBC News: Stonehenge tunnel plan ‘should not proceed’ says Unesco
- SkyNews: A303 Stonehenge tunnel plans: UNESCO warns new road ‘should not proceed in current form’
- Forbes: Do Not Proceed With Stonehenge Tunnel In Current Form, UNESCO Tells U.K. Government