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“The Week” magazine has just asked whether heritage destruction is ever justifiable. Clearly it sometimes is – else we’d have a world preserved in aspic and progress would be impossible. But the bigger question is when is it not justified. They quote some cases where it isn’t but where it happens nevertheless: Palmyra, The Buddhas of Bamiyan, Temple 33 in Guatemala and Hasankeyf in Turkey.

So why does destruction still happen even where, by any rational measure, it shouldn’t? The clue is in the fact that two factors are always present: an agenda to cause the damage and a group with the power to carry it out.

That’s what existed at Palmyra, Bamiyan, Guatemala and Hasankeyf – and it’s what exists at the Stonehenge World Heritage Landscape where there’s a political agenda to damage and a group with the power to carry out it out (the Government, EH, HE, NT and Highways England.)

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Hasankeyf is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements on Earth, yet dynamiting of its Neolithic caves to create a dam is imminent. As one resident said: “We would like to apologise to the future generations for allowing this.” Perhaps soon the same apology may be owed by the British public. It certainly won’t be coming from HE, The National Trust and the rest.

 

 

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