UNESCO committee to discuss threat to Stonehenge

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has released a report recommending that Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to the ongoing impact of the A303 road scheme.

The report and its recommendation – which will be discussed at the Committee's 46th meeting in India from 21-31 July – has been welcomed by The Stonehenge Alliance (SA) who said in a recent statement: "The report reveals that National Highways and the UK Government have proposed changes to the scheme to try and disguise the deep cutting through the Bronze Age landscape on the western side of the site. These include ‘cantilevered sides’ and another ‘green bridge’ adding £50m to the scheme costs. However, these do not appear to have addressed UNESCO’s concerns. Also revealed is the level of frustration with the UK Government’s attitude towards its obligations under the World Heritage Convention. Also, with its failure to respect UNESCO’s request to pause all work to allow further discussion. This was seen earlier in the year when National Highways pressed ahead with closure of the A360 (to much local concern) to carry out preparatory works for the scheme. All eyes will now be on the incoming (most likely) Labour Government as it will inherit the scheme and will have to decide on its future."

Tom Holland, president of the Stonehenge Alliance said: “When in a hole, stop digging – and when the hole is one that has been dug by your political opponents, definitely stop digging. The new Government will have the perfect opportunity to reverse a road scheme that is not only ludicrously expensive, but risks huge damage to the country’s international reputation. We hope that whoever comes to power next week will seize it.”