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Here’s Donald Trump dramatically throwing a 10,000 page environmental report on the floor saying “These binders could be replaced by just a few simple pages, it would be just as good. It would be much better.”


It’s a salutary warning for Britain. Even the best, most authoritative advice can sometimes be ignored, given a strong enough agenda to do so.

Which brings us to Stonehenge:
It is to be hoped that following UNESCO’s ruling that a short tunnel is unacceptable, Highways England will not produce an amended short tunnel as their preferred route which is still a short tunnel.

Watch this space….

Krakow, 6 July 2017

UNESCO’S World Heritage Committee agreed in Krakow yesterday morning that the benefits a 2.9km tunnel would bring to the centre of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS) cannot be offset against the damage it would cause to other parts of the WHS. It recommends that the Government reviews the scheme to widen the A303 road so that it does not adversely affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the WHS.


Transport Minister John Hayes has just been mocked in Parliament for refusing to take interventions from MPs without ties. Much fun ensued, with one female MP subsequently saying she wouldn’t answer anyone who wasn’t wearing a feather boa and another saying she’d only speak to people wearing their pants on their heads. But maybe it’s not so hilarious. Might it be that the Transport Minister feared one of the questions would be about what he thought about UNESCO saying it was not acceptable to say the short tunnel’s benefits outweighed the damage?

English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust have taken a different route. They too have opted to answer no questions from people without ties, or with them, but have issued a joint statement saying they’re “disappointed” by what UNESCO say.

WHY? Since when is protection by a world body disappointing? Will they be “disappointed” if the scheme is cancelled and will they then remain loudly resentful for the next few decades that they’ve been prevented from ripping massive tears across a World Heritage Landscape? What a grotesque stance that would be for conservation bodies to take, but that’s the logical consequence of their current stance.

As predicted, English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust have stonewalled in response to UNESCO’s report on the short tunnel proposal. Here’s their statement in response:

“We’re disappointed that the report largely ignores both the benefits of removing a large stretch of the A303 and the danger of doing nothing at all. We believe that if well-designed and sited with the utmost care for the surrounding archaeology and chalk grassland landscape, the tunnel proposal presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide a setting worthy of some of the nation’s most important ancient monuments and will bring huge benefits in terms of public access, nature conservation and protecting the nation’s heritage.”

Yet it’s blatantly clear to all that UNESCO’s report doesn’t ignore the benefits of a short tunnel and doesn’t recommend doing nothing at all, it simply says it is “highly likely to bring adverse impacts” and “it is not considered satisfactory” to suggest the benefits can offset the damage and urges Britain “to explore further options“.

So the English Heritage / Historic England / National Trust statement says far more about them than they intended. To defy UNESCO is bad enough but to misrepresent what UNESCO said is even worse. We feel they would be better employed lobbying Government to take heed of what UNESCO is actually saying.

By Jim Rayner

More information is gleaned each year about how to take the summer solstice forward. The alcohol ban / car parking charges continued and English Heritage filmed some of the event with a static camera and placed the footage online for the first time. Security issues also meant an appearance of armed guards. The crowd of 13,000 who watched the sunrise was slightly up from the 2016 attendance due to a range of factors, such as the good weather and people travelling on to the Glastonbury Festival. Overall the event passed off fairly peacefully, apart from the usual handful of (mainly drug related) arrests.

The event however, is a continuing process of evolution. The ongoing issue about overcrowding in the centre of the circle is yet to be resolved and a gate still hasn’t appeared in the old A344 northern stock boundary fence. The whole point of closing and grassing over the A344 was to open up the Stonehenge landscape, not leave the fence in place without any immediate plan for its removal. Not being able to walk up and down the Avenue is a real detriment to the solstice experience and does little to discourage overcrowding within the centre of the circle. The Avenue needs to be reconnected with the stones in order to provide the space for a more authentic gathering. This could be achieved by placing a small gate in the fence or by simply just having a small roll-back section of fencing which would be manned by security guards for an hour or so at sunrise. This would help spread attendees out over a wider area for the benefit of all concerned.

The live stream was a success, but English Heritage (EH) need to work in conjunction with BBC Wiltshire to produce a short supporting film with interviews with attendees and provide a closer view of the sunrise itself with the use of a thermographic camera. BBC Wilts. Broadcast a radio programme from the stones each year and their live segment really needs to be combined with what EH attempted to do. This would provide a better focus for those watching at home.

Jim’s website is

Poland’s environment minister, Jan Szyszko, whom green activists have criticised for allowing large-scale logging in the ancient Białowieża forest, has called for the woodland to be stripped of Unesco’s natural heritage status, banning human intervention.

“This is an attempt by the minister to impose his own narrative,” said activist Katarzyna Kościesza of the ClientEarth environmental group.”

Meanwhile in England, despite what UNESCO has said to them (“It is not considered satisfactory to suggest that the benefits from a 2.9km tunnel to the centre of the property can offset significant damage”) English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust are attempting to impose their own narrative on the Stonehenge Landscape.


Libya’s General Tourism Authority has criticized the decision of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to place five archaeological sites in Libya on the endangered world heritage list!

Imagine that! A country resisting UNESCO’s concern for the preservation of its cultural sites!

And yet…. UNESCO’s statement that Britain’s intention to inflict massive damage on the Stonehenge World Heritage Landscape is not acceptable has so far been met with a wall of silence from English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust. It can be confidently assumed that they are set to fight UNESCO on this issue, every bitter step of the way. (Unless of course the Queen says the too-short tunnel is being dropped this morning in which case they’ll all be saying how damn pleased they are!)

Still, those bodies are not Britain. Please demonstrate that fact by signing the Stonehenge Alliance petition and by writing to UNESCO. By the way, the Government absolutely, categorically doesn’t want you to write to UNESCO direct about this. They say it will “serve no useful purpose” and your concerns “would be better directed to the UK Government, where the facts can be properly addressed and clarified“. Bet they would!

English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust contend that a short tunnel at Stonehenge would be a net improvement and therefore justified. But now UNESCO has delivered a very clear no:


“It is not considered satisfactory to suggest that the benefits from a 2.9km tunnel to the centre of the property can offset significant damage from lengths of four lane approach roads in cuttings elsewhere in the property…. The potential impact of some 2.2km of four lane approach roads in cuttings on the Stonehenge landscape could fundamentally compromise the OUV of the property….. The World Heritage Committee….Urges the State Party to explore further options with a view to avoiding impacts on the OUV of the property, including: (1.) The F10 non-tunnel by-pass option to the south of the property, (2.) Longer tunnel options to remove dual carriageway cuttings from the property and further detailed investigations regarding tunnel alignment and both east and west portal locations;

They appear to have deliberately left zero room for argument – for in 2015 the Government stated: “the UK Government has committed to working closely with UNESCO and its advisors ICOMOS throughout this process”. That surely means they wouldn’t and couldn’t defy UNESCO on a central matter of principle?

Try not to panic, Dear Reader:

“Delays expected on A303 ahead of Summer Solstice/Highways England is warning drivers of the risk of potential delays/  Congestion can be expected/a 40mph speed limit will be in place on the A303 between the Countess roundabout and Longbarrow roundabout/ lay-bys closed/ dual carriageway between Countess roundabout and Stonehenge Cottages will be reduced to a single lane” … and so on.
Yes we get it, it will be busy, it always is. But with 25,000 people expected, no busier than usual and less busy than sometimes – and of course far less busy than countless football matches and other events that Highways England make absolutely no fuss about in the press.
Could it possibly be they want to make a meal of it as part of their pro-tunnel campaign?! They have form. Remember this (for which they subsequently had to apologise) …..
Highways England tries to manipulate local opinion in favour of cultural vandalism


July 2017
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