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The clue’s in the name: WORLD Heritage Site. The British Government, supported by various compliant bodies, is planning to do something UNESCO totally opposes, thereby taking sole control of the welfare of a WORLD asset. Aren’t we witnessing a mini-Brexit, played out on Salisbury plain, with likely disastrous consequences?

For one thing: Stonehenge’s World Heritage Site status will be removed! The Government and its allies haven’t made much of that reality yet. No wonder. Which member of the Government do YOU trust to be in sole control of heritage and not be influenced by the sort of commercial lobbying which the World Heritage Treaty was specifically designed to guard against? Without UNESCO that protection will be gone. In supporting the proposals English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust have amply demonstrated they won’t be there for Stonehenge and the only other protection, people-power, may be made criminal if deemed “annoying”.

For a second thing: the actual view of Stonehenge will be removed from millions of travellers! Again, the Government and its allies make little of that, for an equally good reason: it’s tantamount to removing the World Heritage site from public consciousness unless they react to a road sign saying “leave here to view Stonehenge and have your money ready”. It’s a view that everyone loves, the essence of the site, the one the whole world knows, the view that has uplifted and excited millions and inspired and thrilled countless children, many of whom are now working for English Heritage. Even arch-Brexiteer, Jacob Rees-Mogg, confessed in the Commons: “one of the joys of going on the current A303 is that one gets a glimpse of Stonehenge and I think that is a great benefit and it’s uplifting for people to see”

So of course Britain shouldn’t be in sole control of Stonehenge and of course that view mustn’t be hidden. There’s a sickening familiarity about what is happening. In 2009 UNESCO removed World Heritage Site status from the Dresden Elbe Valley due to the building of a four-lane bridge in the heart of the cultural landscape (to relieve congestion and no doubt to “improve the site”). Does that ring a bell? And what about the fact a referendum had been held about building that bridge without informing voters UNESCO designation was at stake?

Dresden Elbe Valley

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