Inquiry into Stonehenge road plan: Begins Salisbury Guildhall, today

Plans to restore area around Stonehenge face public scrutiny

I wonder where they’re going to put the ‘hippy compound’ and the festival space?

I guess not, perhaps a drive in MacDonald’s might be more appropriate.

Inquiry into Stonehenge road plan: Plans to build a road tunnel under Stonehenge are to be examined at a public inquiry.

Plans to build a road tunnel under Stonehenge are to be examined at a public inquiry.

The project’s aims have widespread support, but campaigning groups argue the proposed 2.1km (1.3 mile) tunnel is too short and will damage the site.

The government scheme will take the A303 under the World Heritage Site to reduce traffic congestion around the stones and improve visitor facilities.

The inquiry will begin in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on Tuesday.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said the government’s plan did not go far enough.

The group said the road would have a “major impact” on the site, with tunnel portals degrading the landscape near the ancient stones and the road and associated earthworks affecting a large area.

CPRE’s head of transport policy Paul Hamblin said there was agreement the tunnel was needed.

But he added: “When building new roads we should do all that we can to ensure they are of the highest environmental standards.

“The government needs to dig deep to find what it takes to deliver a longer tunnel for this priceless world asset.”

The scheme is costing the government £193m. The National Trust is also calling on the government to accept its case for a longer tunnel.

Director Martyn Heighton said: “The public inquiry needs to consider whether the proposed tunnel is long enough to conserve and enhance the spirit of place, landscape and archaeological interest of Stonehenge.”

He said the Trust was concerned the tunnel exits would be places on archaeological and “visually sensitive ridgelines”.

A Bronze Age earthwork – which formed the ceremonial approach to the stones – would remain severed by the A303 and further areas would continue to be plagued by traffic, the Trust will argue. “We cannot sell Stonehenge short,” he added.

English Heritage – which is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – said it supported the Highways Agency’s proposals.

It said the road scheme would “rescue” the site from the “noise and clutter of the 21st century and give it the dignified setting it deserves”.

Work will start by 2005 if the scheme is approved.

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