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If this recent statement by Henry Owen-John (Head of International Advice at Historic England) is right, the World thinks Stonehenge is in very safe hands: “The UK is widely respected on the international stage for its long history of heritage protection and management and for the way in which its heritage assets are looked after. Many UK World Heritage Sites are models of best practice”.

However, the introductory text to his lecture back in April indicates a different reality:With 192 countries, often with very different approaches to heritage management, that are party to the Convention, the UK can sometimes find itself at odds with the broad consensus view about how best to manage and protect WHSs. In particular the concept of “constructive conservation” can clash with less flexible approaches to protection.

So which is it? Are British plans for a short tunnel at Stonehenge “widely respected” elsewhere or “at odds with the broad consensus on how to look after WHSs”? Do those foreigners see it as “constructive conservation” or are they “less flexible”?

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The Stonehenge landscape (soon to be subject to Historic England's recent and oh-so-convenient Advice Note 2 - Making Changes to Heritage Assets which says

The Stonehenge landscape. Historic England’s recently published oh-so-convenient “Advice Note 2 – Making Changes to Heritage Assets” says about places like that:works other than those of a minor nature are likely to be acceptable only where they would be in the best long-term interests of the conservation of the remains or there are other important planning justifications“. Will those “less flexible” foreigners agree with that last bit? Or will they feel Britain’s leading World Heritage Site is being subjected to an intellectual and physical carve-up?

 

 

.Simon Thurley, defending the Visitor Centre against criticism said:.

I think this building is elegant, beautiful, and above all fit for purpose. I think it is a great work of art. But amazingly, it is also reversible: if somebody thinks we got it all wrong in 30 years, it could be dug up, taken away and rebuilt somewhere else, or crunched up and sold off as scrap – and the field would be again as it was.”

So if somebody in 30 years thinks they got the new mile long dual carriageway and cuttings wrong could they be dug up, taken away and rebuilt somewhere else? Or crunched up and sold off as scrap leaving the field and the archaeology as it was?

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Reversible?

Reversible?

 

petworth.

Actually, that’s a mistake. They’re supporting a new dual carriageway over their World Heritage landscape at Stonehenge.

Sorry.

By all that’s right and rational the Stonehenge tunnel should have been conceived, proposed and designed by a ẁide panel of respected archaeologists. But no, it was all down to this bloke, looking for votes…..

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cameron-at-stonehenge

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He and his team wanted it cheap. Which means short. But that gave them a PR problem because “short” also means “horribly damaging to the WHS”. However, that wasn’t insurmountable. All they needed was a sufficient number of archaeologists in receipt of Government funding or patronage to say such damage is acceptable. Which, as is clear to all, they’ve obtained.

So just so you know, it’s a political tunnel.  It was neither conceived, designed nor blessed by the likes of Aubrey Burl, Martin Carver, Carenza Lewis, Francis Pryor, Colin Renfrew, Tim Darvill, Josh Pollard, Vince Gaffney or Jim Leary. In Tom Holland’s words, Stonehenge has been “offered up as a sacrifice on the altar of electioneering“. It’s as simple and shameful as that.

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.

 

brass-neck

Today Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage will be taking to the platform of the conference celebrating 30 years of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site – why?

Historic England are endorsing their employer’s wish for a short tunnel that would devastate the Stonehenge half of the WHS.

The National Trust has opened a fast food outlet in the centre of Avebury’s henge, amidst the largest stone circle in the world, and also support a short tunnel that would devastate the Stonehenge half of the WHS.

English Heritage have summarily failed to protect Stonehenge from damage during annual solstices, and also support a short tunnel that would devastate the Stonehenge half of the WHS.

The question this collective act of bare faced cheek should leave on everyone’s lips is whether they can be trusted to truly care for our greatest prehistoric monuments?

 

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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[To see the others put ‘Yowling’ in the search box.]

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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[To see the others put ‘Yowling’ in the search box.]

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.

[To see the others put ‘Yowling’ in the search box.]

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