This week we pointed out that the Stonehenge landscape is so precious and so important and so unique that Historic England et al. have no business approaching it in the same way as other places such as Calverley Park, Tunbridge Wells. The simple reality is that if somewhere is sacrosanct then damaging it is unacceptable, whatever the claimed benefits of doing so.

Today we were reminded that ICOMOS-UK and UNESCO have repeatedly said exactly the same thing about the A303 proposals at Stonehenge:

We appreciate the very real need to address the issue of the A303 and recognise that a tunnel could have beneficial impacts on parts of the World Heritage property. However, we are concerned that associated portals and dual carriageways could have a highly adverse impact on other parts of the World Heritage landscape that cannot be set aside however great the benefits of a tunnel.
[ICOMOS-UK (November 2014) in a letter to ministers]

“To suggest that this damage can be mitigated by benefits brought by the tunnel to the centre of the WHS, is to fundamentally misunderstand the commitments made to sustain OUV at the time of inscription of the property on the World Heritage List.”
[ICOMOS-UK, earlier this year, reponse to the consultation on the A303]

“It is not considered satisfactory to suggest that the benefits from a 2.9km tunnel to the centre of the property can offset the significant damage from lengths of four-lane approach roads in cutting elsewhere in the property.”
[UNESCO’s WH Centre (June 2017) in its report to the WH Committee]

Just how much explanation do Historic England, English Heritage and The National Trust need before they stop lobbying for damage to the protected landscape of our national icon? And who is advising Highways England on UNESCO’s advice?