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We’re pleased to report that there is a new player in the site guardian arena. A new group has been formed to look after several sites on the Derbyshire Moors. We welcome GSSN, the Guarding Sacred Sites Network, who introduce themselves in the guest post below. We look forward to hearing good things about their work going forward.

There are many beautiful, ancient sacred sites on Stanton and Harthill Moors, in Derbyshire. Nine Ladies, Doll Tor, Rowter Rocks, Nine Stones Close, Robin Hoods Stride, to name a few. These sites are always under pressure of various kinds.

The damage at Doll Tor during lock-down didn’t go unnoticed as the images spread across social media sites. Although shared on Facebook, no one had reported it to the PDNPA, English Heritage, or the Rural Heritage Police. This is where our group began. We reported the damage and realised there was a lack of information about what to do if one witnessed or discovers damage at sites. We made a poster, set up a Facebook group, and became inundated with messages of hope and offers of help, from people across the country.

Since then we have created an adopt a site monitoring scheme which covers Stanton Moor and Harthill Moor. We have a monitoring form and some guidelines for volunteers to follow. We’ve listed the potential hotspots for rubbish and damage in the area and created a ‘How to report damage’ leaflet. Sites on the list have been monitored every weekend since we started the group.

Many of you will have seen the posts on Facebook about the recent and very busy solstice celebrations at Nine Ladies over the past weekend. Thankfully there has been a group of volunteers on the moor acting as unofficial stewards and collecting rubbish from the site, as well as educating people. At the time of writing this, I can happily say all the rubbish has been collected and taken off-site. Indeed, it may now be cleaner than many other spots in the area.

Organisations who are officially responsible for large numbers of archaeological sites, such as the National Trust and English Heritage, have recognised that one of the most productive ways to ensure their long-term survival and conservation is via a regular and systematic monitoring scheme undertaken by local volunteers. In this way, sites which might not be encountered that often by archaeological staff (e.g. due to their out of the way locations on moorland, farm fields, and cliffs) can still be visited regularly, and any actual or potential damage can be reported and acted on before it gets out of hand. This information is then fed into a database designed to record each site’s current state, including any problems and the subsequent response to them. By recording such information, the database becomes a tool with which to make informed decisions about the management of a broad range of sites, based on their type, construction, location, and so on.

Our second shared responsibility is to create interpretation material that informs visitors about the importance of the sites through an educational website, books, artworks, and so forth, that encourages a sustainable love and appreciation for our sacred sites. ‘Sacredness’ is not simply a matter of joy in experiencing a beautiful or historic place, but a component which motivates people in how they interact with places. Our network is a platform to explore ways that we can help to educate people through positive, informal, and relaxed experiences. Our goal is to help protect sacred sites in this area from any damage. Damage includes digging, rubbish, graffiti, fires within the circles or close to the stones, machinery damage, vehicle access, and other types of damage to the natural environment.

Stanton Moor, in particular Nine Ladies, is a contested space. Many people have very strong opinions about how it should be treated. How can the complexity of meanings surrounding a place, be represented, through formal management and interpretation? This question is difficult to answer. There is no easy solution, there are many. Each site has its specificity, each visitor, their preferences. Such issues are faced by environmental educators, archaeologists, heritage managers, landowners, those who provide information for others regularly.

If you would like to join us on our quest for preservation and education, please like our Facebook book, Guarding Sacred Sites Network, or email guardingsacredsites @ gmail.com.

The Stonehenge project is going to be put back by another year. Those who oppose massive new damage to the World Heritage landscape (and that includes UNESCO) will be gratified but they may have much more to celebrate:

Although Transport Minister Shapps wants us to “build ourselves out of the crisis”, the delay may be long enough for him to find the Government’s funds have run out – and the value-for-money calculations have deteriorated.

So the chances of the Government giving him a couple of billion pounds to shave a few minutes off the journey to Cornwall are remote. Could this latest delay be the crucial straw that breaks the scheme’s back?

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How many cups of coffee will it take before someone tells him there’s no money? And how many cups will EH, HE and NT drink while drafting a response to any cancellation? Will they say “hooray, the damager is avoided” or express regret that it can’t go ahead?

 

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The latest Press Release from the Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort campaigners:

– Historic England deals late blow to community’s 8-year fight to save the setting of one of Britain’s outstanding Iron Age hillforts from housing development –

Campaigners are up in arms at news that Historic England has relaxed its concerns over development in the historic landscape of Old Oswestry hillfort on the Shropshire/Wales border.

Illustration (c) John Swogger ‘With Friends Like These’

The government’s statutory heritage consultee is currently advising on a planning application by Galliers Homes for 91 houses in the near setting of the 3,000-year-old Iron Age monument.

The outcry comes as Historic England’s representation appeared on Shropshire Council’s planning portal just hours before the close of public consultation (on April 21). The current application is the third set of plans in 12 months to be submitted by Berrys, the planning agent, prompting floods of objections each time.

“Historic England’s response raises far more questions than it answers,” said campaign group, HOOOH, which has produced a 10-page document criticising the content. “They are sanctioning proposals that do not comply with their own criteria and guidance. This includes conditions in a Statement of Common Ground signed with Shropshire Council in 2014 that allowed this highly controversial site to be adopted in Shropshire’s SAMDev local plan.”

Campaigners say the heritage body is backing down on key requirements, including a northern development limit to ensure houses do not extend beyond the line of an adjacent factory.

HOOOH said: “We seek proper clarification from Historic England as to why they are not keeping to these criteria. The northern limit they stipulated for built development is a clearly defined threshold, not something to negotiate with the applicant on the basis that proposals achieve partial compliance.”

The group’s exposé also criticises a lack of rigour and transparency over archaeological evidence, heritage impact assessments and photomontages submitted by the developer.

HOOOH says that Historic England’s representation is a complete abdication of duty, summed up in the heritage body’s comment: ‘This latest proposal is an improvement on previous ones, partly because it more fully complies with the Statement of Common Ground.’ Campaigners are also concerned that pressure may have been put on Shropshire Council’s archaeology and conservation team, whose representation, published a week after the consultation deadline, essentially defers to Historic England’s views.

“This is just not good enough,” HOOOH said. “Historic England, whose remit is to safeguard our shared national heritage, has a duty to ensure that any proposal wholly complies with the agreed conditions. They should be far more rigorous: a unique hillfort and archaeological landscape are at stake here.

Campaigners say they are shocked that Historic England has failed to object to proposals that would constitute substantial harm to a scheduled monument from development within its setting, as defined in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

“This has removed the main obstacle to planners approving the application, as it would be very difficult for Shropshire Council to justify approval against Historic England’s objection,” HOOOH said. “It is now up to our elected representatives on Shropshire Council’s planning committee to follow the democratic wish and refuse permission.”

Campaigners continued: ”Historic England has retreated from having serious concerns over the heritage impacts of the proposed development and is now parroting the developer’s statement about distances between the hillfort and proposed development, as if these are acceptable boundaries. They offer no explanation as to why these distances, which form no part of the Statement of Common Ground, are significant and carry weight for accepting development.

“This goes against Historic England’s own advice, principles and spirit of heritage protection regarding the setting of heritage assets, in particular those classified as designated heritage assets. It also goes against the principles for evaluating harm to heritage assets and their setting within the NPPF.

“Apart from the immediate damaging consequences for Old Oswestry, an exceptional type site for Iron Age understanding, this could set a very dangerous planning precedent for developers to ravage heritage landscapes integral to the story and experience of ancient monuments across England.”

HOOOH added: “Can we actually rely on Historic England to apply their own guidance on setting, which is a lifeline in protecting our fragile heritage? Throughout our campaign, HOOOH has witnessed double standards based on a weakened planning process that promises, but has scant regard for, public consultation and localism. It also appears to have allowed a statutory consultee to be manipulated during private meetings and by developer-led literature, which plays down the value of the heritage, that is, our heritage!”

Attention

Old Oswestry’s plight has attracted attention from around the world, prompting a 12,000-signature petition and support from national heritage organisations and leading academics including Michael Wood, Alice Roberts, Mary Beard, Dan Snow and Tom Holland.

The 3,000-year-old hillfort is widely referred to as ‘The Stonehenge of the Iron Age’ for its unique design and pivotal importance together with its hinterland landscape for the understanding of Iron Age society.

HOOOH said: “The local community, which has fought so long and passionately to protect Old Oswestry, is distraught that its hillfort could be both the victim of and a precedent for a new age of legalised heritage vandalism. We have consistently pointed out how Caerau hillfort in South Wales has been surrounded by urban housing. We are desperate that the relevant authorities wake up to the real dangers that this application near Old Oswestry would bring to the setting of the scheduled monument.

“Historic England has let us down. During the long eight years of this campaign, we put our trust in them as our heritage protectors, even when at times their choices went against our instincts. Now, at the eleventh hour, we feel angry that they have not stood their ground as set out in their agreement with Shropshire Council that should only permit development if it meets all criteria. Instead, they have engaged in closed-door negotiations with the developer and Shropshire Council and, ultimately, their decisions could be the thin end of the wedge to the gradual destruction of Old Oswestry’s setting from long-term town expansion.”

The group added: “The hillfort land allocation was approved in SAMDev back in 2014 under the pressure of meeting over-ambitious housing targets and 5-year housing land supply and because, we were told, there were no other viable locations.

“Five years on, the planning imperative for this most unpopular of development sites has been substantially weakened. The County’s 5-year housing land supply is in surplus and housing numbers for Oswestry are being majorly scaled back in the local plan review to 2036, while many potential new sites have come forward including a project to unlock land for around 1000 homes.”

HOOOH says that local housing delivery has recently been boosted after the green light was given to 600 homes on the Oswestry Eastern Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE). The group also points out that the sustainability criteria supporting the allocation of OSW004 in 2014 have been seriously undermined by a change in legal status of the Cambrian Line to an operating railway, effectively preventing access across and along the track for pedestrian and cycle access.

According to Shropshire Council’s planning portal, objections to the hillfort site (as of 1 May 2020) have reached over 250. The planning application can be viewed by searching the reference 20/01033/EIA at: https://pa.shropshire.gov.uk/online-applications/

The public can still submit comments via email to: planning.northern@shropshire.gov.uk

HOOOH’s rebuttal can be found at www.oldowestryhillfort.co.uk


There is also an excellent analysis of the Historic England approval on the Pipeline web site.

The renowned academic, Professor Dame Mary Beard, has added her voice to nationwide concerns over major development in Old Oswestry hillfort’s historical setting.

The Much Wenlock born classics professor, writer and TV presenter is among numerous celebrities who have been reacting on social media to Galliers Homes’ proposals for 91 houses as the consultation deadline approaches.

Others include the academic and TV personality, Professor Alice Roberts, Francis Pryor of Channel 4 Time Team fame, as well as John Challis, Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, and Viv and Ralf from Channel 4’s Gogglebox. The award-winning author and Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, also tweeted her support.

The social media activity saw a surge in objections, which Shropshire Council’s planning office confirmed caused temporary problems for some people submitting comments online, according to campaign group HOOOH.

Oswestry Town Council, Cambrian Heritage Railways and OBHAG (Oswestry & Border Archaeology & History Group) are among local stakeholders maintaining their opposition. Influential national heritage bodies have also objected, including the CBA (Council for British Archaeology), RESCUE (the British Archaeological Trust) and The Prehistoric Society.

Heritage experts insist that development will damage Old Oswestry’s landscape setting and harm its significance contrary to national planning rules. The proposals also contravene Shropshire Council’s local plan policy, with half of the development extending beyond Historic England’s stated northern limit.

In Professor Alice Roberts’ objection on Shropshire Council’s website, she states: “Old Oswestry Hillfort is one of the best preserved hill forts in Britain. The proposed plan exceeds existing limits to development, and fundamentally fails to respect both the national importance of this site and its importance to local people. The development would have an irreversible impact on this very important piece of our national heritage.”

A spokesperson for HOOOH said: “The Inspector’s criteria for rubberstamping this land allocation six years ago in Shropshire’s SAMDev plan have fundamentally changed. Oswestry’s targets for annual housing delivery are being scaled back, while changes concerning the legal status of the adjacent Cambrian line as an operating railway prevent the development from meeting key sustainability criteria on pedestrian and cycle access.

“New studies reaffirming the high value of the landscape around the hillfort north of Oswestry have seen Shropshire Council rule out any further allocations within this most sensitive of areas in their local plan review to 2036. The slim justification for housing that councillors and the Inspector were led to believe in 2014 no longer stands, and the site should simply not be developed.

“The masterplan for the current application entirely fails to meet Historic England’s requirements on the northern limit for building and acceptable design, and therefore Shropshire’s northern planning committee has compelling grounds to refuse permission.”

These are the third set of plans to be submitted by Galliers Homes within a year, prompting huge opposition each time. Objections on the planning portal (as of 19 April 2020) have reached almost 200, exceeding total objections to each of the previous and subsequently withdrawn submissions.

The 3,000-year-old hillfort is widely referred to as ‘The Stonehenge of the Iron Age’ for its unique design and pivotal importance together with its landscape for the understanding of Iron Age society.

The deadline for public comments is today (April 20). People can view the planning application and make representations by searching 20/01033/EIA via the link: https://pa.shropshire.gov.uk/online-applications/

HOOOH said: “If people experience problems registering and submitting comments on the planning portal, we recommend that they email them instead to:  planning.northern@shropshire.gov.uk.”

Further information on the 8-year planning wrangle over Old Oswestry’s setting and issues concerning development is available at www.oldowestryhillfort.co.uk

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the recent deadline for objections to the latest planning application at Oswestry Hillfort was delayed by 2 weeks. This expires next week, and the Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOOH) campaign have issued another press release, calling for one last push from objectors to help save the hillfort and its hinterland:

Campaigners make final stand as deadline looms to save hillfort’s landscape

Campaigners are urging people to unite one more time to protect Old Oswestry hillfort’s historic setting as an 8-year fight over development reaches a climax.

The call comes as campaign group HOOOH releases guidance on objecting to Galliers Homes’ latest planning application (20/01033/EIA) to build 91 houses in the hillfort’s near landscape. The final deadline for comments is Thursday 16 April. Full details of the planning application can be viewed on the Shropshire Council website at: www.shropshire.gov.uk/planning/

Among objections raised by HOOOH is that the proposal:

  • exceeds Historic England’s northern limit for development, with an estimated 40% of the built form lying outside it.
  • does not proportionately account for the very high national significance of Old Oswestry, with a resulting underestimation of the degree of harm from the OSW004 development on the hillfort’s setting and on its significance. The development proposal assesses that only ‘some’ harm will be caused, including harming 11% of views to/from the hillfort – this is ‘substantial’ given the hillfort’s national significance while representing only part of the harm/impacts. A photo montage visualising the development submitted by the developer suggests there will be a far more harmful visual impact.
  • fails to meet the SAMDev Oswestry S14.1a policy requirement for ‘pedestrian and cyclepath links to the former railway and a new footpath link between Whittington Road and Gobowen Road to improve access towards the Hill Fort’. The applicants concede in their planning statement that there are significant material issues, raised in a previous objection by the Cambrian Heritage Railways, in providing access to Gobowen Road across the railway line. Therefore, the proposal fails to deliver a key requirement of the S141a policy and fails to provide a major public benefit that gave weight to the case for the OSW004 allocation.

HOOOH goes on to say:

“Exactly eight years since major development by Old Oswestry was first proposed, we are asking for your support once more in opposing the latest bid to build houses in the hillfort’s immediate hinterland landscape.

“This third planning application, for 91 houses, is still as large and as damaging to the significance and experience of this outstanding Iron Age hillfort and its setting as previous ones.

“Be warned:  this is likely to be our final chance to stop this widely opposed and unnecessary development. It will have very tangible, negative and irreversible impacts on a nationally important heritage landscape – entirely senseless when Oswestry has alternative sites for housing.

“We know these are hugely challenging times; we are all very rightly prioritising the protection of our families and livelihoods through this devastating COVID-19 pandemic. As you stay safe and maximise time at home, we hope you will find time to stay with this fight in protecting this fascinating hillfort and special landscape, ‘The Stonehenge of the Iron Age’. These places of calm, escape and connection with our ancestors and nature will be all the more valuable to us when we come through this awful crisis.

“While we are striving to safeguard family and friends in our community from this dangerous virus, let’s make sure that ruinous planning under cover of a national crisis does not usher through development that we have passionately opposed for almost a decade.”

HOOOH’s guidance can be found at www.oldoswestryhillfort.co.uk

As mentioned recently, the latest deadline for objections to the most recent planning application at Old Oswestry Hillfort expires in two days time (April 2nd).

As of last night, less than 30 objections have been registered, but it’s hoped this will increase with last-minute submissions in the two days remaining.

If you’ve not yet submitted your own objection, the Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOH) group have put together a handy guide with suggestions for inclusion in your submission.

As one protester has stated:

Hillforts were built to stand guard and benevolently look out over their surrounding territory and protect it from intruders. They were also designed to be looked up to from that territory with reverence and respect. So it would be a great tragedy if you were to allow this very intrusive planning application as it is much too close and would seriously damage the historical and aesthetic setting of the hillfort.

As mentioned last Friday, the developers at Oswestry recently withdrew two plans to build upon the site.

But as anticipated, a further plan has been introduced in its place, as the latest newsletter from the Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOOH) campaign explains:

April 2nd is the deadline to object to yet another revised development bid in Old Oswestry’s near landscape.

This 3rd one (for 91 houses) is still as big and as damaging to the significance of this outstanding Iron Age hillfort and its setting as all previous ones. Be warned that the 18 or so days left to object are likely to be the very final countdown to have your say – this latest application comes with an actual deadline date for determination (July 1st).

The new planning application and object can be seen here.

Planning reference: 20/01033/EIA, Land To The North Of Whittington Road, Oswestry, Shropshire. Proposed residential development of 91 No. dwellings with associated access, public open space, electricity sub-station, drainage and landscaping.

Please be aware:

  • Fields shared with/next to the proposed land (OSW004) have been protected from housing development in the local plan review to 2036 due to their heritage importance as part of the hillfort’s setting. OSW004 would also meet these criteria if it had not been controversially allocated back in 2015 – it stands out like a sore thumb as an unnecessary and wrong place for housing.
  • Additional land has been identified for housing east of the bypass at Park Hall, keeping town growth away from the hillfort.
  • Oswestry has received funding to help unlock yet more land for over 1,150 new houses in the next 10 years.
  • Oswestry’s delivery target for housing is 90/year, including a proportion of affordable houses. Almost 100 affordable homes alone have been built in 2017/2018. There is no need to encroach into the hillfort’s landscape.

With only two weeks left for objections to be lodged, our supporters are urged to object via the http://www.shropshire.gov/planning website, as soon as possible. Further details of how best to formulate an objection will be released soon.


Highways England’s A303 Stonehenge tunnel scheme is at a critical stage. A decision on whether to approve it is due by 2 April, but funding for the scheme could be announced in the Budget on 11 March. We would like to swamp the Chancellor of the Exchequer with letters from around the country and abroad to show the strength of feeling against it.

Please write in your own words to:

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Email: public.enquiries@hmtreasury.gsi.gov.uk
cc: transportsecretary@dft.gov.uk and your local MP (find your UK MP here)

Subject: A303 Stonehenge

Dear Chancellor,

I would like to strongly urge you not to approve funding for the high risk and highly damaging A303 Stonehenge scheme:

  • It is poor value for money and high risk. Highways England estimates only 21 pence of benefit for each £1 invested, if the highly dodgy heritage survey is discounted. Cost overruns are likely due to tunnelling through poor quality chalk and unpredictable groundwater conditions.
  • UNESCO opposes the scheme which would irreparably damage The World Heritage Site and which the UK Government has pledged to protect for future generations.
  • The scheme would increase carbon emissions at a time when the Government needs to show international leadership on climate change ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.
  • Please add any other concerns or expand on the above.

Yours sincerely,
Your full name
Your home address

If you have time please also email the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
 
For more ideas on what to write see the recent letter to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps from the Stonehenge Alliance

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT AT THIS CRUCIAL MOMENT IN OUR CAMPAIGN

The Stonehenge Alliance is a group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and opposes development that would cause it significant harm.

I recently attended a very interesting one-day workshop held by the Penwith Landscape Partnership (PLP) here in Cornwall. The subject of the workshop was ‘Rights of Way, Surveying and the Law’.

The course was designed to help volunteers become proficient in surveying access routes, reporting any problems found and teaching about the law regarding different types of access. The day was led by Linda Holloway, a Senior Officer in Cornwall Council’s Countryside Access Team, well versed in all aspects of the subject.

We discussed the three main categories of public routes, which are:

  • Public footpaths – designed for walkers only. Dogs are allowed, but no special provision is made for them (at stiles, etc).
  • Bridleways – For horses, walkers, and cyclists.
  • Byeways – Which allow vehicles in addition to the above (sometimes restricted, e.g. for landowner access only).

Unrestricted access to the above is determined by the Definitive Map, which was set in 1952 (with some subsequent additions). If a path is marked on this map, then the public has the right to access, by law. Of course, in many cases, landowners find it inconvenient to have public pathways across their land, and will often try to discourage their use. This may be by use of off-putting signs (beware of the bull, trespassers will be prosecuted, etc.) or some form of obstruction such as locked or blocked gates, overgrown paths, intimidating livestock in fields, etc.

We heard of several horror stories where landowners had been prosecuted, including some awful cases where people had been severely injured in accidents.

All incidents of lack of access, or damage to paths on the Definitive Map should be immediately reported to the local council, who will follow-up and take appropriate action to restore access.

So how does all of this affect those of us who like to visit ancient sites? Well, it’s a sad fact that many pathways are not included on the definitive map. In 2012, the government announced plans to simplify the recording of definitive paths. Under these plans, all unrecorded footpaths and bridleways created before 1949 will no longer be recorded after 1 January 2026. This means that pathways that have been available for use to access the countryside that are not on the definitive map are in severe danger of being lost/closed for future use.

So what can be done to protect these unregistered pathways for future generations to use? There are several initiatives underway to get pathways added to the Definitive Map before the deadline expires.

  • The Ramblers organisation has produced a downloadable guide to help identify and register ‘lost’ pathways.
  • The British Horse Society provides online maps for most of the country, showing definitive and lost pathways, and providing links to older maps to assist with evidencing historical usage of paths.
  • Restoring the Record illustrates the sorts of evidence that are valuable in recording paths of historic origin. This is important because unrecorded routes will cease to exist on Path Extinguishment Day (1 January 2026).
  • Rights of Way Maps provides a search facility for maps showing existing (registered) rights of way. Useful for identifying existing registered paths.

In order to be added to the Definitive List, evidence of the use of a pathway must be provided. This may be a witness statement indicating regular usage, documentary evidence on old maps or tithe apportionments, or other historical evidence.

If you care at all about rights of way, and particularly if you regularly use a currently unregistered path to access ancient monuments in our countryside, please consider getting involved in registering our paths via one of the projects listed above before they are irretrievably lost!

 

We recently received a letter from one of our readers, who wished to remain anonymous. Although only conjecture, the letter makes some interesting points regarding the proposed Spanish amendments to the World Heritage Committee’s drafts to the UK re the A303 scheme at Stonehenge. We reproduce the letter here in full:

Dear Sir/ Madam,

Why Spain’s stance on the A303 scheme near Stonehenge?

I wish to support our country. Often I scratch my head at money seemingly taking some precedent in decisions, but one wonders whether it is more important to protect wonderful sights and have imagination fuelled beyond the calculations. Some say yes, some say no, and many do not seem to care, their imaginations increasingly filled by with ever the reality of being able to put a plate on the table and spend more time with their loved ones.

For the last 100 years the car has become a necessity for many, and a driver, excuse the pun, for economic development and continued growth, it keeps people in purpose and freedom. Granted, there are probably too many of them, but this is what we do, we find things and make them into something else that enables a cycle, just like how people once built Stonehenge and made it from boulders from a landscape far away. But there is only one Stonehenge, unlike the cars; and whatever you may think of it, be it a big calendar, a grand gathering place for people to share or enlighten or a sacred place, it’s just there and it’s made it this far.

And so, to question of the Spanish intervention at the WHC42; backed by Burkina Faso, Hungary, Brazil, and Zimbabwe. It was interesting to see that the Spanish amendments (see below) to the World Heritage Committee were in order to undermine protection advised in the initial drafts presented by the WHC mission to the UK.

One wonders whether it has anything to do with potential tenders to Ferrovial / Cintra who are lined up as possible contractors (the others being Hochtief or Skanska/Strabag) and the proposed £1.6 billion finance scheme, or a timetable? I infer no wrongdoing or bias here, or indeed any lack of integrity, noting that the qualified diplomacy on display at the WHC was very impressive. However we must be careful with wanton speculation as there could be a plethora of other reasons; some have said Gibraltar, others may note that the WHC Spanish delegate is the wife to the ex-Secretary of Spain for Industry and Tourism, who knows, the PP in Spain are noted for dodgy deals?

But perhaps if the site wasn’t protected and debated about as it has been, the less scrupulous amongst our own might have bulldozed it already and stuck a big Mickey Mouse ride and a McDonalds on the site for a fist full of dollars; no EH jokes required.

Of course, we are not in the halls of power to make the decisions about cashing in and developing the land or highway, or for me, even comprehend other significances that may be a bit stranger. But if it is the case that it may be done deal, then the best possible solution needs to be found, as was originally proposed by the mission who came to assess the site of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), so that other people can wander past, or get some vibes, or whatever in generations to come.

Sometimes I think it is just that simple, imagination is a treasure. Is it greater to us folk, than not sitting in a traffic jam for a bit longer, and is it worth more than a public/private contract deal that could literally cut corners?

We have failed in the past through not knowing how to best understand or protect our places of interest, and we learn and guide from this. The OUV should be looked after, all agree, looked after for future generations; but only to the very best of our engineering and planning ability, and with the utmost credence given to the concerns of the community whose work it is to protect and learn and teach from our heritage, alongside the developers. The Spanish amendment reduces this real value for this scheme required for some of the community and was unnecessary. And just maybe, if they were around today, the engineers of Stonehenge might well agree.

Kind regards,

(redacted)

London

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