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This press report is worrying: “Flooding crisis to see A303 upgrade fast-tracked“.

Why? Because in September it emerged that English Heritage was “still pushing for the A303 to go into a tunnel eventually” and we commented “bravo if EH are quietly pushing for a Stonehenge tunnel – but only if it’s a long, deep-bored one that all the main archaeological and conservation organisations support”. Then in December their Chief Executive Simon Thurley confirmed they will continue to argue for the tunnel “with all our strength” but again it wasn’t made clear which tunnel he meant. Then last month we asked “Surely, if EH are arguing for a tunnel with all their strength on behalf of the public they owe the public an explanation of which tunnel they’re arguing for?”

But there has still been no clarification and now it seems the A303 improvements may be fast tracked. It would be awful if the first time it became clear which tunnel EH had been pushing for was on the day they hailed the announcement of a fait accompli – a fast-tracked A303 improvement programme incorporating a Stonehenge short tunnel.  At that point – with the whole of the West of England cheering and the scheme budget irrevocably fixed – all the bodies that have previously argued against a short tunnel on archaeological grounds might find themselves pretty much ignored. Maybe they should ask EH to clarify their intentions now, before the die is cast?


February 2014

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