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Two weeks ago we linked to this video by Julian Richards in which he destroyed the pro-short tunnel case. Now he’s done it again, this time in print. It’s important because it contains a number of clear key statements which the pro-short tunnel lobby, with its yowling moggy claims (25 so far) simply can’t refute. Here are the three central ones:
- “Firstly it is simply too short.”
- “This scheme needs to be re-thought.”
- “If we go ahead with it as it is then I am convinced that future generations will judge us harshly and ask what were we thinking of to allow this to happen to such an important World Heritage landscape.”
We should like to add our own speculation – that most of those employed by English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust are privately in agreement with those three points and are distressed by the public stance being adopted by their organisations. How could they not be? And no, “The Government insists” is not a morally acceptable excuse!
Now (by sheer chance you understand) English Heritage is celebrating archive footage (courtesy of Heritage England) titled “A hundred years of change” showing how bad things were in the landscape years ago https://twitter.com/BBCSouthToday/status/832850377661902849 and ending with the words “As debate over the tunnel continues, the landscape will continue to change”…..
The subtext, surely, is “look, there used to be an airfield on the landscape (and that’s what sparked the debate about the setting of the stones and the landscape that surrounds them says an EH spokeswoman on the film) so us promoting vast new damage to the landscape is no big deal and justified and entirely consistent with Stonehenge’s changing story. We had an airfield. Now we’ll have a mile of dual carriageways. So what’s new or not to like?
Blatant and entirely false, or what?
We’ve all been bombarded with the benefits of removing the existing A303 (quieter stones and an average of 8 minutes off the travel time). Historic England, English Heritage, the National Trust and the Highways Agency have made sure of that. But have they fully explained the harm it will do? Of course not, and that’s a story in itself, the moral of which is that a pig with lipstick is still a pig whatever the Government’s agents are telling the public.
So for the avoidance of all doubt, here’s what we will lose. Everyone should keep it in mind every time anyone says the tunnel is fine:
Loss of national reputation. We’ve signed an international promise not to do what we’re proposing to do and we’re currently concocting a form of words to deny it (we have to be, for without that we can’t do it, yet the whole world will know we’re lying).
The damage. We’re not going to just dig a hole. Or a hundred holes. We’re going to dig out countless millions of cubic feet of land to drive dual carriageways, some of them in cuttings, for a mile across 27 sq.km of archaeologically rich landscape recognised to be of outstanding universal value to mankind.
The view. Which civilised country would deprive tens of millions of travellers a year of this ancient, iconic, world-famous sight? Depriving them of it even for a long tunnel would be tragic. Doing so for a short one would be unforgivable.
So, which of those three are you prepared to lose? Historic England, English Heritage, the National Trust and the Highways Agency want you to lose all three!
They’re doing it for the great great grandchildren of the Shropshire councillors and they need all the help they can get. Everyone knows they won’t get any from Shropshire Council which is hell bent on allowing private developers to build a housing estate in the setting but they’re entitled to feel let down that English Heritage (whose great great grandchildren they’re also fighting for!) didn’t step up to the plate, given it’s claim that it is “inspired by a determination to put England’s heritage ahead of private interest“.
The same applies at Stonehenge where (you might feel) English Heritage ought to be standing shoulder to shoulder with the protestors, for the sake of its great great grandchildren, not supporting massive new damage to the landscape and painting it as bequeathing conservation to the future.