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The abiding message of the 30th Anniversary Conference is that the whole Stonehenge landscape is very special. So logically you’d think everyone would want to keep it from harm. But no. “Desecration by short tunnel” must still be considered acceptable for no-one said otherwise and Tom Holland’s 2 minute 27 second video saying otherwise couldn’t be shown as the programme was “too full”!  

It all makes zero sense. But perhaps most puzzling of all is the attitude of the National Trust. By what mechanism has “Preserving special places for everyone, for ever” become “we support what the Government wants”?  We think we may have found the answer buried in an article in The Independent back in 2003 :

It is the largest conservation group in Europe and the third-biggest landowner in the country. But, a senior official admits on screen, it does not know exactly what it is meant to be doing. What disturbs about The National Trust is not its concern with fine buildings and natural landscape but its inconsistencies and distortions and its clod-hopping, bureaucratic megalomania in dealing with them. Tyntesfield must be frozen archaeologically, but Lennon can be imagined. Cliveden can be developed, but Orford Ness must remain a desert.”

And the Stonehenge WHS must be valiantly defended. Or not. Depending on which decade the question arises.

 

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (17 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda.

Baroness Jones just askedwhether Highways England plan to investigate using a tunnel which avoids visual and physical damage to the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site and its setting”. It was an easy question for the Government to deal with. Simply saying “yes, it’s one of several options” would answer the question but not bind them to it. But no. Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon said: “Highways England are considering a number of options for improving the section of the A303 close to Stonehenge, which include a variety of tunnel options. The results will be available for consideration at a public consultation to be held in 2017.”

The question called for just “yes” or “no” not “a variety” which means nothing.  So we can safely infer a non-damaging option isn’t being considered. Had it been he would have been delighted to say so. We can also predict that only damaging options will be offered at the public consultation. Logic dictates it’s true. Which is more than can be said of Highways England’s reported statement after their recent Workshop that they “hope” the new A303 would avoid the WHS”!!

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Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (16 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda.

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English Heritage has published 2 pictures titled THE SOLUTION suggesting how the Stonehenge Landscape could look “without the A303“….

yowling-moggy-number-10

But it’s a misrepresentation that pushes the term “blatant” to new levels. The landscape will NOT be “without the A303 !! What is proposed is the building of a new A303, partly in a short tunnel  but also in the form of brand new, massively damaging surface dual carriageways stretching about a mile, just about as long as the existing road shown above!

So suggesting the landscape would be without the A303 is yet another screeching moggy and it is the basis upon which Highways England say (in their current newletter) their plans will result in a “reduced impact on Stonehenge and the World Heritage Site“.  No. Absolutely, categorically no.

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Here are a couple of before and after images of Boslow Inscribed Stone, St Just, Cornwall.

Image © C. Weatherhill

Boslow Stone previously.    [Image © C. Weatherhill]

Image © C. Weatherhill

Boslow Stone currently   [Image © C. Weatherhill]

Fortunately the Boslow site is being monitored by CASPN (Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network) in conjunction with Cornwall Council’s Historic Environment Service Officer who has already spoken to the farmer.

However, there are many thousands of ancient sites elsewhere which don’t have protection networks and are far more vulnerable. Budgetary constraints can mean  that unless they are alerted to a problem Historic England inspectors may not be able to visit more than once in several years, if at all. (The parlous financial reality surrounding all heritage guardianship is something which those who complain about having to pay to go to Stonehenge should perhaps take on board!)

So it’s pretty clear that conservation is often in the hands of the general public who are in a position to alert official guardians to problems as soon as they arise.

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (14 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda.

A moggy of omission? It’s like this: you’d think, since the Government said the Trust’s volte-face on the tunnel was pivotal, the 2016 National Trust AGM would be full of the subject. But no, no-one mentioned the word Stonehenge  and there were only two Members’ Resolutions (and they were about the Tenants Association and saving a café at Studland). Nothing about the biggest decision the Trust has ever made (and ever will) – the decision to support massive new damage to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. 

You’d also think, wouldn’t you, that out of 4.5 million members some would have tried to table a resolution about that. But no. Or did they? (The Board can refuse to accept a resolution if it has been covered before, if it’s defamatory or if at least three quarters of the Board think it’s not relevant). Whatever the reason, the omission is bizarre by any measure, is it not?

Maybe though, you think Stonehenge was covered within the 22 questions from the floor? No it wasn’t. Or the 24 questions submitted in the simultaneous webchat? No, it wasn’t. Still, the Chair, Tim Parker, did say “I hope you can see we’re not just trying to take on the nice easy questions”. No, actually, we can’t.

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (13 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda.

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Placebo politics? In 2010  Conservative MP John Glen certainly pleased the voters, saying he would not rest until a Salisbury bypass was built. But this year he changed: “I have always said that I will not rest from seeking improvements to Salisbury’s roads infrastructure.” Not quite the same thing! Anyway, he has now applied placebo politics to Stonehenge (and added a dash of muddle!):

On 4th March 2014 he wrote: there is one option that would address the demands of those who crave a fit for purpose dual carriageway and those who rightly seek to protect the precious archaeology of Stonehenge. A long deep bore tunnel would enable safe passage through without disturbing the hidden barrows and earthworks of the wider World Heritage site.” Sounds pleasing! A long tunnel and no disturbance to archaeology. But next day at a Westminster Hall debate he said  “In the past there has repeatedly been one solution that has united all parties, a deep bore tunnel if it was at least 2.8 km long.

For his information … all parties were NOT united, in fact nearly every archaeological and heritage body was strongly against it! In addition, his “long tunnel” turns out to be a short tunnel, and that of course would disturb the archaeology of the wider World Heritage site! Placebos (and yowling moggies) are bad enough but describing damaging quack remedies as reliable cures is worse.

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Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (12 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda.

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Historic England says the Stonehenge tunnel would be “the biggest single investment ever made by Government in this country’s heritage.” No. It was always a road investment. For avoidance of doubt: the Government’s published purpose was “to turn the A303 into a strategic corridor to the south-west” (and of course, to get votes!) It was subsequently painted as a heritage investment by the 3 bodies trying to put lipstick on a pig.

Neither “heritage” nor anything like it passed David Cameron’s lips when he visited the site for the announcement. In fact, he let the moggy out of the bag that day. Just after being briefed by the Highways Agency and the Trust he stated, unconvincingly: It’s quite a long tunnel but I think that’s what makes it such a successful plan. No David! They may have told you it’s quite a long tunnel but actually it’s a far too short tunnel for conservation purposes and that’s what makes it a disastrous plan and one of the biggest single destructive actions ever made by Government against this country’s heritage!

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Surprise, surprise! A planning application has just been submitted to North Yorkshire County Council by Tarmac applying to extend its Nosterfield Quarry. As part of it, it is proposing to ‘gift’ to an appropriate body in perpetuity control of the Central and Southern henges. Sounds kind. Until you recall that Tarmac has wrecked most of the landscape of the henges already. And that giving gifts has long been part of its strategy….

tboro2

In July 2005 the Journal reported that “In an attempt to appease local opposition a strip of land between Thornborough Moor and Nosterfield has been offered to the village for recreational purposes” and the next month it was reported they’d offered to donate 60 acres of land around the Northern Henge to the nation. However, six months later we were reporting the other side of the story: “Quarrying in the vicinity of the Thornborough Henges has caused widespread concern for many years. About half of the original complex has been destroyed, a landfill site is being operated immediately adjacent to the central monuments and quarrying is still ongoing close by at Nosterfield, also within the monument complex”.

tboro-quarrying

So Tarmac’s latest gesture isn’t something to celebrate greatly. Gifting control of the Central and Southern Henges is no big deal since they are scheduled and can’t be quarried – and indeed are probably a burden to be responsible for. So it’s probably best to think of Tarmac more as a crocodile, to be treated with caution not gratitude. Just over ten years ago we quoted our colleague, Thornborough campaigner George Chaplin.  His words turned out to be prophetic: “Tarmac have not given up in their ambition to extend the existing quarry. They intend to appeal against the refusal and the danger remains very real for the whole of the remaining surroundings”.

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (10 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda….

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Hard to believe, but true. Even though Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust say they are committed to ensure that “only schemes which protect and enhance the World Heritage Site are progressed” it has just been revealed that Wessex Archaeology are secretly test digging (see this) at the very spot where the entrance to one version of the route would be and it’s at the very place where it would do maximum damage to the significance of Stonehenge:

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worst-spot-of-all

[Hat tip to Tim Daw]

Ask English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust, they’ll all confirm that the central purpose of Stonehenge was the alignment with the winter solstice sunset as seen at that very spot. Yet the bizarre situation has arisen whereby they are all three pushing for a short tunnel which would involve the visible evidence of the central meaning of Stonehenge being destroyed.

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Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (9 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda….

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Once again it comes from the National Trust, which says, (in response to its own question, about whether there any other options rather than building a tunnel):
“Other options within the WHS, such as a surface dual carriageway, would have a major and negative impact on the Site and its monuments.  They would also do real damage to the reputation of the UK as caring for its heritage.”

Yet the Trust  is supporting a short tunnel, which itself involves a long stretch of “surface dual carriageway“, would have a major and negative impact on the Site and its monuments” and would “do real damage to the reputation of the UK as caring for its heritage.

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petard3.

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