Stonehenge tunnel ‘should not proceed’ says Unesco as it warns stone circle could lose status as World Heritage Site if plans go ahead
- The Government approved plans to build a tunnel on the A303 near Stonehenge
Controversial plans for a road tunnel near Stonehenge should be reconsidered, the UN cultural body Unesco has urged the Government.
The stone circle could potentially lose its status as a Unesco World Heritage Site if changes are not made to the plans by National Highways to build a tunnel on the A303.
The Government approved the plans, which are aimed at tackling a ‘traffic bottleneck’, in July.
But Unesco has said it could result in the ancient monument being placed on a ‘danger list’ of world heritage sites at risk.
Earlier this month leading members of The Stonehenge Alliance and Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site took a petition to the Unesco headquarters in Paris.
The stone circle could potentially lose its status as a Unesco World Heritage Site if changes are not made to the plans
It gained 225,000 signatures from 147 countries urging the Government to halt plans for the road scheme.
But the Department for Transport approved the £1.7billion two-mile tunnel from Amesbury to Berwick Down in Wiltshire.
David Bullock, National Highways’ project manager for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, told the BBC: ‘It is very much a scheme objective to conserve and enhance the World Heritage Site and this is being achieved through close collaborative working with heritage groups, the independent A303 Scientific Committee, and our archaeology contractors, who have an extensive track record of work in connection with the Stonehenge landscape.
‘We remain confident this scheme is the best solution for tackling a long-standing traffic bottleneck [and] boosting the economy in the South-West, while returning the Stonehenge landscape to something like its original setting.’
Earlier this month leading members of The Stonehenge Alliance and Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site took a petition to the Unesco headquarters in Paris. (Pictured, Stonehenge viewed from the A303)
But Unesco said: ‘Over the years, the committee and the advisory bodies have been clear and consistent that the proposed A303 improvement scheme should not proceed in its current form.
‘The currently proposed western portal and associated dual carriageway within a cutting would have significant and inappropriate adverse impacts on the physical and visual integrity of the property.’
Unesco has urged the Government to move the western portal of the planned tunnel ‘as far west as reasonably practical’ to minimise archaeological removals.
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