TNC…where curious minds can access wholesome news commentary

TNC…where curious minds can access wholesome news commentary

Stonehenge tunnel is a monumental mistake | Stonehenge

Five independent planning inspectors, having reviewed 1,493 documents and three weeks of oral evidence, concluded that the A303 road proposals at Stonehenge would cause “substantial harm” to the world heritage site (WHS) and should be refused. But Grant Shapps has approved the tunnel, preferring the views of Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust (The Guardian view on the Stonehenge tunnel: make it longer, 22 November).

Those bodies are not neutral arbiters but “interested parties”: their preoccupation with the benefits of the tunnel for Stonehenge and its immediate surroundings reflect their special ownership, management and commercial interests in that icon at the expense of other less visited parts of the WHS that are also fundamental to its outstanding universal value.

By preferring a £1.7bn scheme for the longest road tunnel in Britain over a surface route entirely avoiding the WHS and costing £400m-£500m less, the decision effectively deprives the nation of using that saving to mitigate major highways developments in national landscapes that cannot be avoided – notably the proposed A417 gash through the scarp of the Cotswolds, where Highways England refuses to countenance any tunnel.

This is a triple whammy of irrational decision-making when the country can least afford it. As the largest human structure ever built within the WHS, the tunnel seems destined to memorialise the folly of pursuing economic growth on the back of ultimately unsustainable forms of transport.
George Lambrick Honorary vice-president and former director, Council for British Archaeology, Neil Redfern Executive director, CBA, Francis Taylor Stonehenge spokesperson, CBA Wessex

• I disagree with your editorial’s suggestion that if there is to be a road tunnel built for the A303 as it passes Stonehenge then it should be longer. That would cost even more than the planned £1.7bn scheme.

All that is really needed is a roadside screen of hedges or evergreen trees, and the A303 at this point to be turned into a dual carriageway. Instead, we will now get a colossally expensive scheme that will probably run well over budget.
John Boaler
Calne, Wiltshire

• Your editorial pinpoints a key feature of the debate about the proposed Stonehenge tunnel: that of the earth beneath the stones. It is, as you say, “a unique territory rich with neolithic and bronze-age remains” that would be bored through under this plan, destroying an estimated 500,000 items of archaeology. Stonehenge is 5,000 years old. The proposed tunnel would serve the age of the automobile, which we can already see coming to its end after 120 years. Let it alone, Grant Shapps. Or, if you must, choose the longer tunnel.
Alison Leonard
Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

• The distant sight of Stonehenge is a source of joy that has lifted the hearts of travellers for thousands of years. Any road tunnel, even if elongated to protect the site, will cause a profound loss comparable to obscuring our views of Dover’s White Cliffs or Antrim’s Giant’s Causeway, Loch Ness or Snowdon. This treasure should be free to view, at least from afar.
Anna Clarke
London


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