public inquiry began on 17th Feb. 04 in Salisbury, Wiltshire,
regarding government plans to build a road tunnel under Stonehenge.
They claim the tunnel will restore Salisbury Plain to a traditional,
unspoilt chalk downlands and the famous megaliths to a prehistoric
setting. Opponents of the project, The Stonehenge Alliance,
argued that the proposed 2.1km (1.3 mile) tunnel is too short,
and will damage important areas surrounding the ancient site,
instead of protecting it.
Stonehenge Tunnel news
plan was scrapped on Thursday, 6 December 2007!
begins on new
Stonehenge visitor's centre
still been no decision made regarding the proposed Stonehenge
tunnel - we all wait apprehensively for any news.
The earlier rejected plans for English
Heritage's proposed visitor-centre
have now been given 'conditional approval' after an appeal.
The Secretary of State has revealed that the new visitor-centre
will only go ahead once the government approves the published
A303 roads scheme.
Stonehenge alone October 2006
Professor Peter Fowler, an expert on the Stonehenge landscape,
spoke about the proposed tunnel at a Council for British Archaeology
event, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Stonehenge and Avebury
becoming a World Heritage Site. Prof Fowler suggested that as
no tunnel looks likely to be built, then the A303 should be
kept where it is, adding, "because neither widening it
nor allowing it to career off sinuously to north or south is
Professor Fowler believes visitors to Stonehenge would appreciate
and enjoy the monument and surrounding landscape more by using,
"low tech interpretation at perimeter points, to encourage
walkers, cyclists and horse riders" is the best decision
for the Heritage site.
The government is still yet to make a decision, after
two public inquiries and last summer's public consultation.
The most recent inquiry recommended replacing the road with
a long tunnel, which the government rejected due to the proposed
cost, and has now called for further consultation on all the
2005 Salisbury District Council has refused planning
permission for English Heritage's proposed £67 million visitor
visitor-centre plans turned down
The plan was to build a new Stonehenge visitor-centre,
3km east of the stones and close to the A303/A345 roundabout junction.
Among reasons for the planning refusal is the fact that the new
visitor centre would rely upon the provision of a flyover at Countess
Roundabout - part of the A303 Trunk Road Stonehenge Improvement
English Heritage has the right to re-submit their proposals and
address the issues surrounding the refusal.
is now growing uncertainty regarding the flyover, mainly due to
the predicted cost - initially costs were estimated to be £183m,
but this has now risen to £470m. The main reasons for the
increase in estimated costs is the discovery of very large quantities
of soft, weak chalk and a high water table, with the groundwater
likely to rise to the surface during periods of heavy rainfall.
proposal cost grows
Heritage, the monument keepers, support the Highways Agency
- To bore
a twin tunnel to re-route the single-carriage A303 as a dual
carriageway, beneath the World Heritage Site and to close a
section of the A344 - in order to reduce traffic congestion
around the stones. The current road carries approx.20,000 vehicles
- To build
a new £57 million visitor's centre - to improve visitor facilities.
The stones are visited by over a million people a year.
See the proposals: The
site's landowners, The National Trust, believe the proposed
tunnel should be longer.
' The National Trust remains
unconvinced that the Government’s plan for a 2.1 kilometre tunnel
will adequately safeguard the integrity of the site. This is a special
site, not least for the unique sense of place which it inspires.
We believe there are strong archaeological and curatorial reasons
for building as long a tunnel as can be achieved, to preserve and
enhance both the tangible and intangible qualities of the site.'
They are joined by groups such as: The Campaign to Protect Rural
England (CPRE), The Council for British Archaeology (CBA),
( the international body representing conservation experts),
'Save Stonehenge', (which represents local campaigners) and
the Friends of the Earth. The Stonehenge Alliance
believes the tunnel should be doubled in length to 2.8 miles, and
suggest that the proposed shorter tunnel will damage the site for
the sake of short term traffic congestion.
The CBA commented:
'At Stonehenge of all places
- one of immense antiquity and Britain's premier international attraction
- such decisions require a long-term vision of centuries or even
millennia, not just decades.' (Dec.2002)
See CBA's statement: Brit
problems with Tunnel plan
campaigners are concerned that the tunnel portals will degrade
the landscape near the ancient stones, including a Neolithic barrow
within a few metres of one of the proposed entrances, and that
the new road and resulting earthworks will affect a large historic
part of the area.
The new dual-carriageway will cross the Avenue - the ancient track
used by pilgrims to visit the stones.
A Bronze Age earthwork - part of the ceremonial approach to the
stones - would remain severed by the A303.
The proposed scheme will impact on nine areas where archaeological
remains have been identified.
The opposition also suggests the proposed road will have a damaging
ecological impact on the Till and Avon rivers. The government
has resisted pleas to extend the proposed road scheme, and the
planning inspector can only make a recommendation to the relevant
ministers, Mr Darling and the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.
They will make the final decision, and work will begin by 2005
if the scheme is approved. Traffic would be re-routed underground
Stonehenge by 2008.
Campaign group Save Stonehenge fears that the inquiry will
simply 'rubber stamp' a decision to construct the road that was
made several years ago. Save Stonehenge was formed in 1999
and has a mailing list of 1500 supporters; its website attracts
visitors from more than 30 different countries, reflecting international
concern in the issue.