If this recent statement by Henry Owen-John (Head of International Advice at Historic England) is right, the World thinks Stonehenge is in very safe hands: “The UK is widely respected on the international stage for its long history of heritage protection and management and for the way in which its heritage assets are looked after. Many UK World Heritage Sites are models of best practice”.

However, the introductory text to his lecture back in April indicates a different reality:With 192 countries, often with very different approaches to heritage management, that are party to the Convention, the UK can sometimes find itself at odds with the broad consensus view about how best to manage and protect WHSs. In particular the concept of “constructive conservation” can clash with less flexible approaches to protection.

So which is it? Are British plans for a short tunnel at Stonehenge “widely respected” elsewhere or “at odds with the broad consensus on how to look after WHSs”? Do those foreigners see it as “constructive conservation” or are they “less flexible”?

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The Stonehenge landscape (soon to be subject to Historic England's recent and oh-so-convenient Advice Note 2 - Making Changes to Heritage Assets which says

The Stonehenge landscape. Historic England’s recently published oh-so-convenient “Advice Note 2 – Making Changes to Heritage Assets” says about places like that:works other than those of a minor nature are likely to be acceptable only where they would be in the best long-term interests of the conservation of the remains or there are other important planning justifications“. Will those “less flexible” foreigners agree with that last bit? Or will they feel Britain’s leading World Heritage Site is being subjected to an intellectual and physical carve-up?