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Stonehenge tunnel gets guarded UNESCO approval

Published: Thursday, 12th May 2016

UNESCO report backs the concept of a tunnel under the World Heritage Site…

The heritage bodies involved in safeguarding the Stonehenge World Heritage Site in Wiltshire have welcomed the publication of a UNESCO report which backs the concept of a tunnel for the A303 under the site.

However the report has warned the government and English Heritage that the entrances to the tunnel could cause more damage.

The report supports the stance of Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage, that a fully-bored tunnel of at least 2.9km could help to significantly improve the World Heritage Site. The organisations have accepted that the design and location of all aspects of the road improvement scheme will require careful consideration.

The report highlighted the recent improvements to the Stonehenge landscape as a result of the removal and grassing over of the A344 road.

Helen Ghosh, Director-General for the National Trust said: "We welcome this report which recognises the unmissable opportunity the government's road improvement scheme presents finally to address the blight of the existing A303 and the recommendation that heritage is put at the heart of any proposed scheme.

At the moment the A303 cuts through the middle of the World Heritage Site, compromising its integrity and harming the setting of many monuments."

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said: "With sensitive design there is a real opportunity both to deal with the problem of the current A303 and to deliver significant public access and landscape quality benefits to the World Heritage Site."

Kate Mavor, Chief Executive of English Heritage, insisted: “Provided that it is designed and built in the right way, a tunnel would reunite the wider landscape around the ancient stones, helping people to better understand and enjoy them."

The current tunnel proposals remain controversial. However Local campaigners, historians and many archaeologists are campaigning for a longer tunnel.

View the report

Roger Milne