Controversial plans for a street tunnel close to Stonehenge “should not proceed” except main adjustments are made, in keeping with a significant UN physique.
UNESCO, which promotes the preservation of historic websites, says it might even determine to place the landmark on its record of world heritage websites in peril if it’s not glad by adjustments to the proposal.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper granted a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the mission on the A303 in Wiltshire in July.
A DCO beforehand issued for the £1.7bn National Highways scheme was quashed by the High Court in July 2021 amid issues over the environmental affect on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The plans contain overhauling eight miles of the A303 to rework a stretch of street – which has just one lane in each instructions – well-known for its site visitors jams.
The proposals embrace digging a two-mile tunnel, which might take away the A303 from sight subsequent to Stonehenge. As it stands, it goes instantly previous the world-famous heritage website.
However, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has warned adjustments have to be made to the street tunnel proposal earlier than any work goes forward.
“Over the years, the Committee and the Advisory Bodies have been clear and consistent that the proposed A303 improvement scheme should not proceed in its current form,” it stated.
It additional warned the “western portal” of the tunnel and related twin carriageway would have “significant and inappropriate adverse impacts on the physical and visual integrity of the property”.
UNESCO has urged the federal government to maneuver the western portal of the deliberate tunnel “as far west as reasonably practical” to minimise archaeological removals, as a part of its suggestions.
Its committee has requested for a report from the federal government on the state of conservation on the website by 1 February subsequent yr.
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‘In hazard now’
In August, the Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site marketing campaign launched a authorized battle in opposition to the federal government’s resolution to press forward with the plans, having efficiently blocked the scheme in 2021.
The Stonehenge Alliance, the group behind the marketing campaign in opposition to the tunnel plans, has garnered greater than 225,000 signatures from folks throughout 147 nations for a petition opposing the mission.
Historian and president of the group, Tom Holland, stated an additional authorized problem was essential to “halt a development that, if allowed to go ahead, will permanently and irreversibly desecrate the Stonehenge landscape”.
The Stonehenge Alliance added: “Stonehenge World Heritage Site is in danger now, with the legal action challenging the [government’s] decision the only thing keeping the bulldozers off the site.
“We can solely hope that it succeeds, as a result of inserting the positioning on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2024 may very well be too late.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport told Sky News the project will benefit the site.
“The resolution letter units out in full the explanation why it has been concluded that on stability the advantages of the scheme outweigh the hurt,” they added.
Sky News has approached National Highways for remark.