In Part 1 we highlighted how EH, HE and NT were supporting a short tunnel (and implying ICOMOS were too). Until very recently CBA hadn’t joined them. Indeed, in July 2005 they had signaled they never would, saying they were “resolutely opposed to the proposals for a short tunnel, which removes the A303 from the immediate vicinity of the stones but only at the cost of major damage to the rest of the World Heritage Site.” Now however they’ve “revisited earlier documents” and concluded about the long tunnel that “despite its widely-acknowledged benefits, there may be elements of a reasoned case against it”. Amazing what you can find in documents if you re-visit them!
In fact, their re-visiting has revealed to them reasons to go even further. They now say “burial of the A303 in a tunnel would itself cause some damage, but that solution could eliminate current sources of degradation elsewhere in the WHS”. That’s pivotal, for it endorses the central contention of EH et al that there’s such a thing as “beneficial damage” at Stonehenge and hence plays into the hands of the short tunnel lobby with a clarity it could only have dreamed about.
Also like EH et al they cite UNESCO in support of their revised stance: “UNESCO policy now advises that WHS management should ‘embrace initiatives that deliver mutual benefits to the property and its surroundings that may not seem essential to the protection of the OUV, but may prove important in the long run because they tie the property into its context in a positive and enduring way, thus favouring its long-term survival”. However, that UNESCO document (Managing Cultural World Heritage) is vastly more complex and nuanced than that and deserves better than cherry-picking. For instance, it also says “The link between heritage and sustainable development is interpreted in different ways, depending on the specific perspectives of the various players, and a certain degree of ambiguity exists”
To put it gently, UNESCO has NOT said it supports a short tunnel at Stonehenge and it is wrong to say it has. Nor should it be said, as CBA has, that any damage should be “minimal”. That sounds virtuous, but in truth it’s a surrender to the central agenda of the short tunnel lobby. Surely damage should simply be opposed, as the Stonehehenge Alliance has, not offered for negotiation? What has the Government’s wish to build a short tunnel got to do with CBA’s previous resolute opposition to such a thing?