Would you build a new road through a world heritage site containing one of the UK’s most recognisable assets?
Would you build a tunnel within a few hundred meters of Stonehenge?
Both of these options are now being considered as part of a road improvement scheme around Stonehenge designed to:
- Remove roads and traffic from the landscape setting to Stonehenge within the heart of the World Heritage Site;
- Provide a bypass for the village of Winterbourne Stoke; and
- Reduce accidents along this stretch of the A303 and improve journey time reliability.
The Highways Agency ran a consultation (Open to the 24th of April 2006) which was available to participate in online on the options for road improvements around Stonehenge.
I responded to the consultation with the following:
*A Cut and cover tunnel close to Stonehenge is the worst option, (But new roads being built through valuable sites is also undesirable).
*The “Partial solution” offered (closure of the road that runs right by Stonehenge – only)- is the best way to go.
I oppose any major earthworks in the world heritage site, because I believe that we, as the current generation responsible for preserving the WHS and Stonehenge for the future should not be destructive. I agree with section of planning Inspector Michael Ellison’s report which suggests that:
“The physical loss of archaeological remains, the changes to the landform in
these sections, and the scale of the new highway would adversely affect the
authenticity of the site and more than offset the benefits of the proposed
tunnel in the central area. The published scheme would represent the largest
earthwork ever constructed within the WHS; a feature that would contribute
nothing to the authenticity”
I believe a tunnel or new road would be an irreversible interference and destruction of a site and monument that we have no right to damage.
I support the closure the A344 at its junction with the A303, as I believe that the proximity of the A344 to the monument is a major detraction from the setting of Stonehenge (more so than the A303) and think its removal will be a massive improvement. However with the closure of the A344 I am concerned that access to Stonehenge for those with disabilities, and those without much time to spend at the monument (the average visit is reported to be around 20 minutes) will be made difficult/impossible and would like to see some parking available near to the monument – for example a large lay-by at the current A303/A344 junction and/or parking at the north end of the closed A344, in sight of the monument. I believe no method of access via a visitors centre off the Countess Roundabout will be easily and practically accessible to those in a hurry, or unable/unwilling to walk. Great care should be taken not to make Stonehenge any less accessible to any group – from locals who pass daily to tourists from the far east “doing the UK” in a day.
I consider preservation of the WHS for future generations most important, not road improvements. Congestion is a very current and transient problem compared with the 7000 year history of the site.
There is a positive aspect of Stonehenge being visible from the A303 – many more people get to see the monument as they drive past than they would if the A303 was covered, or moved.
I believe the consultation website could be improved:
- Link more clearly to the PDF leaflet, from the menu containing “scheme update”, “background information” etc.
- Proof read the site and correct errors eg.”There is also an online questionnaire under Publications”
- The A344 isn’t on the major map provided online.
- The statement “The scheme proposals have been developed… with the full involvement of the National Trust.” belies the fact the National Trust are not supportive of any of the options put forward.
- Links to the responses to the review by organisations such as the National Trust
- The consultation does not appear in the results of a search for Stonehenge at http://www.consultations.gov.uk
- The site is not interactive – there is no way I can make my comments visible to others or enter into debate/discussion with those holding opposing views.
- References to “the leaflet” suggest the web questionnaire was an afterthought and are inconsistent.
- It is absurd to require names and addresses “in block capitals” on a web form, as it is only done to ensure legibility of characters which is not an issue online.