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By Nigel Swift

After many months of asking, I have received a reply from the English Heritage Press Office to the simple question: “Is the view of Stonehenge from the road of cultural significance”:

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Hello there,

Many thanks for your email.

Many people enjoy – and have enjoyed – the view of the stones as they drive by Stonehenge. But the cost of that view is a noisy polluting road that runs through an ancient burial landscape, a World Heritage Site, just 170 metres from the monument. We’ve already seen the enormous improvement brought about by removing the A344 and the old visitor facilities next to the stones and English Heritage believes that placing the A303 within a tunnel would transform the Stonehenge landscape yet further. The removal of the surface road would reunite the ancient landscape and allow everyone to understand Stonehenge better. People would at last be able to enjoy uninterrupted views from all directions as they explore – whether it be on foot, bike or horseback – not just the stones themselves but the surrounding prehistoric monuments, in a car-free landscape and one more akin to its original setting.

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But it’s no answer at all, is it? Doesn’t it confirms everyone’s suspicion that English Heritage knows it is of enormous cultural significance but doesn’t want to say so as it wishes to destroy it forever!

Many people enjoy – and have enjoyed – the view of the stones as they drive by“. Many people? No, tens of millions of people, the vast majority of people who will ever see the stones. Minimising them to “many” tells its own tale.

But the cost of that view is a noisy polluting road that runs through an ancient burial landscape, a World Heritage Site, just 170 metres from the monument.” But which of those millions wishes to be deprived of their view because of that? By what right does English Heritage make such a judgement? Is it the aristocratic owner of 18th-century parkland and free to amend it as it wishes, on a whim?

We’ve already seen the enormous improvement brought about by removing the A344 and the old visitor facilities next to the stones” What an outrageous comparison! Those were almost on top of the stones and everyone agreed they should be removed.

The removal of the surface road would reunite the ancient landscape and allow everyone to understand Stonehenge better.” Really? Everyone? Wouldn’t that apply only to those on foot, bike or horseback, a tiny, tiny proportion of the public? So the tunnel wouldn’t allow everyone to understand Stonehenge better, it would mean the vast majority of people wouldn’t see Stonehenge at all! (Unless they pay English Heritage a large ransom of course!)

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He’ll understand it better if he can’t see it!

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