Campaigners have called for ‘a fundamental rethink’ of the Government's plans for the A303 at Stonehenge and warned that a proposed tunnel would substantially damage the World Heritage Site.
The Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT) said a 1.8 mile tunnel at Stonehenge would fall well short of the Government’s commitment to protect the whole World Heritage Site under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.
It said such a tunnel ‘would involve substantial damage to the World Heritage Site which is some 5.4km wide’.
CfBT said it does not advocate new road building at Stonehenge and wants other options to manage and reduce traffic to be fully explored first.
James MacColl from CfBT said: ‘The only options in the forthcoming consultation should be ones that do no further harm to the World Heritage Site, one of our greatest national assets. Anything less would be a betrayal of the Government’s duty to safeguard this iconic landscape for future generations.’
However, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) backed the Government’s plans, saying they ‘will be a boon to the economy of the South West’.
CECA’s head of external affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming, said: ‘This scheme will improve journey times, cut congestion, and open up the economy of the South West.
‘At the same time, given the importance of the site to global heritage, it is vital that the public have the opportunity to contribute their views on the proposals. We welcome the Government’s decision to move forward with this.
‘The current proximity of the busy A303 to Stonehenge is far from ideal. We welcome any proposals that will improve connectivity around the site, whilst respecting the archaeological integrity and uniqueness of Stonehenge as a World Heritage Site.’
Dr Mike Heyworth MBE, director of the Council for British Archaeology, said: 'These proposals are the latest in a long-running saga, but need to be considered carefully as any damage to the internationally significant prehistoric landscape around Stonehenge is irreversible.'