It seems there is now the political will to finally sort out the congestion on the A303. Some “options” are now being considered. So far as the section near Stonehenge is concerned it looks very much as if the “solution” has already been decided upon. For what it’s worth, here’s our guess about what is going to happen pretty soon:

1.  Whatever is done, the World Heritage status of Stonehenge will NOT be permanently removed. That threat has been used before to influence public opinion and it didn’t happen. Why would it? It would make no sense.

2. A bypass taking the A303 far away from the stones will NOT happen. The construction and compensation costs would be impossibly high.

3. The A303 close to the stones will NOT be made into a dual carriageway. The effect on the stones and the archaeology would be far too severe.

4. Building a tunnel WILL happen, on the convenient grounds that tunneling technology has become much cheaper since it was last rejected on cost grounds.

____________________________________________________________________

But WHICH tunnel? The long, non-damaging but expensive one or the short, very damaging but cheaper one that almost got built despite massive opposition from virtually every archaeological and heritage body except EH? No prizes for guessing. The new study will “look to initially build on work done to date on potential proposals” – so the long tunnel isn’t even being considered.

You’d think it would be pretty easy for EH to confirm which tunnel THEY support – especially as they have said they are fighting “with all our strength for a tunnel”.  But no. We put in a Freedom of Information request  asking them for “Clarification as to the most likely tunnel option English Heritage have a preference for and documentation supporting that decision as referred to in Simon Thurley’s statement in The Art Newspaper of 11 December 2013” and we got this response ….

“It is not possible to comment on this, or provide documentation that supports a decision regarding which scheme English Heritage would support, for the simple reason that we have not yet been presented with scheme options to advise upon. When DfT presents us with their potential scheme options, then we will be able to advise upon their heritage impacts and relative merits.”

It’s pretty clear that presented with a series of impossible options plus the short tunnel our national heritage champion is going to reluctantly choose the short tunnel, as favoured by the Government – and all those archaeological and heritage bodies that previously called for a long tunnel and the avoidance of damage to the setting of our national icon will have been effectively sidestepped. We’ll be happy to be proved totally wrong though.

The Cruyff turn

The Cruyff turn