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This, by Mike Birkin in December 2014, remains true:

“I was no great fan of the new labour way of doing things. But the current disregard for evidence or rational analysis makes me feel positively nostalgic for it. Politicians and motorist lobbies at Stonehenge this month talked as though none of the debates and learning of the last 30 years had ever happened. It was transport planning through the eyes of a Top Gear presenter. To call it a throwback (which I did) is actually an insult to the 20th century.

Doubly distressing was to see how the leading lights of our Heritage bodies lined up to support the plan for a Stonehenge tunnel. In 2006 the National Trust signed up to a joint statement, along with Friends of the Earth and other members of the Stonehenge Alliance. We were united that any future road plan should avoid impacting on the World Heritage Site (WHS).

We don’t know why they’ve changed their mind, since they didn’t consult the Alliance, but change it they have. The Trust now supports a short tunnel despite the inevitable damage this would inflict on the WHS. There would have to be a mile or so of above-ground big scale road engineering. The Trust seems to believe that some parts of the WHS are expendable and their loss can be offset against the gains in the immediate vicinity of the stones.

It’s an odd position for them to take given that their own archaeologist enthuses over how much wonder and hidden knowledge still resides within the WHS landscape. “The Hidden Landscapes project has reminded us once again that the Stonehenge Landscape is among the most precious places on the planet” he writes. But not so precious, it seems, that bits of it can’t be sacrificed for a political stunt.”



October 2017

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