Proposed Tunnel at Stonehenge: Highways England Promises to Protect the Historic Site

Last September, it was announced by Highways England that it would proceed with its plans to bring the A303, a busy and important road network, underground at the historic site of Stonehenge, although the group said that it will take this new underground portion of the A303 around 50 metres further away from the site itself. 

Tunneling the A303 under Stonehenge to protect its future

Tunneling the A303 under Stonehenge to protect its future

But following this announcement, campaign organisations have expressed their concerns. The organisations have voiced their concerns that the scheme could do damage to the site, not only above ground, but below ground as well. The campaign organisations have also expressed concerns that the tunnel will not be long enough, and this lack of length will undermine the historic site, especially when it comes to its archaeological significance.

A reassurance from Highways England 

Highways England, however, has responded to these concerns and has reassured the groups that it has thought carefully about both the sensitivity and complexity of the project and is collaborating closely with heritage organisations and listening to advice from these organisations in order to make sure that the route will enhance and protect the world heritage site and its outstanding universal value.
Highways England goes on to say that whilst the current road network divides the world heritage site into two, the proposed tunnel on the route should be able to reunite the landscape and do away with the adverse effects of the current road as well. Highways England adds that this will result in a great improvement to the setting of the historic site itself. 

Some concerns 

One of the groups opposed to the project is Rescue: The British Archaeological Trust, which states that the tunnel, whose portals will be within the surroundings of the world heritage site, are too short to provide protection to the world heritage site’s archaeology, especially since important portions or sites may exist on the expressway’s trace line right outside the proposed tunnel.

According to Rescue, the engineering work carried out for the cuttings, the tunnel entrances/exits, and the approach road/s, as well as the portions of junctions, will require the complete excavation of archaeological artifacts in the area. Rescue adds that whilst there may be a comprehensive recording of the archaeology which may be discovered, this will not be following the optimum requirements and conditions of planned and targeted research projects that are normally expected for such an asset of the greatest significance.   

Highways England has stated, however, that the ideal route has been prepared and chosen based on information gathered during ground investigations in the site over a span of 50 years. The route, according to Highways England, is allied with a section of the site where surveys have shown that there are no buried artifacts or remnants and where farming and ploughing have been done for years. 

Posted on 20 Nov 2017 in News

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