12 Environmental groups unanimously reject government plans for new roads at Stonehenge
News release: For immediate release: Tuesday 24 January 2006
Yesterday's government announcement  of new road proposals to solve traffic problems at Stonehenge has now been rejected by 12 environmental groups: the National Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB); Transport 2000, Friends of the Earth, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Stonehenge Alliance (representing FoE, CPRE, Transport 2000, Ancient Sacred Landscapes Network, Pagan Federation, RESCUE - the British Archaeological Trust), Save Stonehenge!, International Council On Monuments and Sites UK (ICOMOS-UK), Council for British Archaeology (CBA), and the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural Heritage Society (WANHS).
The groups, representing archaeology, nature conservation, sustainable transport, and other environmental issues, have swiftly rejected five "new" options for the A303 road, which passes near the Stonehenge World Heritage Site:
The National Trust, which owns much of the land around the central stone circle, rejected all five options. In its press release of 23rd January, it said:
"With its publication of the consultation document for the A303 Road Proposals Options Review for Stonehenge, the Government has failed one of the world's most famous landscapes. The five options outlined in the Review and the consultative process by which the Government arrived at this decision, focus on transport solutions for Stonehenge which denigrate its status as a World Heritage Site. These schemes will not return the world famous stones to the tranquillity they deserve and threaten to damage valuable archaeology.
Any hopes we may have had - following the Government’s announcements of 20 July and 31 October - that the Review would identify the shortlist of options to guarantee Stonehenge's future, have been disappointed. We believe that none of the five options put forward by Government are acceptable. Furthermore, we do not believe that the shortlist of options for further detailed consideration represent the full range of alternatives.
The Government has failed both to undertake a detailed review of the options and to consult environmental and heritage organisations at a stage of the process which would afford a real opportunity to input into this Review.
There are alternative options for Stonehenge which may be both preferable and less expensive than those outlined by the Government which should have been included in the review to date. We call on the Government to make creative use of the 13 week consultation period, which follows their announcement, to give serious consideration to all options and move forward on alternative options that would offer Stonehenge the world class future its status requires."
Read the full press release. For further information, contact the National Trust: Ivo Dawnay Director of Communications: 01793 817703; 07909 925041 Julian Lloyd, Head of Media: 020 7152 4530; 07768 700976
Other groups were similarly dismissive:
- Tony Richardson, Director of RSPB South-West Region said: "A completely new road through the Stonehenge site is unthinkable not only because of its obvious archaeological value but also because of the public outcry it will spark amongst the millions of people who value Britain's wildlife. It is less than six months since we hit targets for stone-curlew recovery both nationally and in the south-west, where one third of the UK's population is found. Approval for any over-ground route will make a mockery of the government's desire to get this mysterious and vulnerable bird back on its feet." Full press release: http://www.rspb.org.uk/action/stonehenge.asp
- Stephen Joseph, OBE, Executive Director of Transport 2000 said: "All the options presented appear to involve significant damage to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site or to neighbouring heritage and wildlife sites. But this is fantasy road building anyway because there is no money to do any significant projects of this sort." http://www.transport2000.org.uk T2000 press/communications: Steve Hounsham: 0207-613 0743
- Mike Birkin of Friends of the Earth (FoE) South West said: "The choices on the table are not new and they are still not acceptable. The choice seems to be between damaging this valuable World Heritage Site now or damaging it later." Friends of the Earth South West http://www.foe.co.uk/ Contact: Mike Birkin, 0117 942 0128
- Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Head of Transport Policy, Paul Hamblin, said: "After years of prevarication we are right back where we started, with a set of schemes whose environmental price is too high. Money is of course limited, but with persuasive arguments more should be found for this World Heritage Site which is such a powerful icon of the English countryside." Full press release: http://www.cpre.org.uk/news-releases/news-rel-2006/04.06.htm
- Dr Kate Fielden, Secretary of the Stonehenge Alliance
(representing FoE, CPRE, Transport 2000, Ancient Sacred Landscapes
Network, Pagan Federation, RESCUE - the British Archaeological Trust),
said: "The announcement of options for the A303 Improvement at
Stonehenge is disappointing. The reviewers have come up with five
options, four of which take us back more than a decade and indicate
that the Government's priority at Stonehenge continues to be a road
improvement that would leave the archaeological landscape of the World
Heritage Site severely damaged for ever." Full press statement: http://www.savestonehenge.org.uk/alliancepress230106.html
- Chris Woodford, spokesman for pressure group Save Stonehenge!,
said: "These new options are reheated leftovers from the 1990s.
They're a world away from the bold, creative, thinking that Stonehenge
really needs. Europe's greatest monument deserves a respectful,
sustainable solution that puts the integrity of the World Heritage Site
above the needs of motorists." Full press release: http://www.savestonehenge.org.uk/ssnr230106.html
- International Council On Monuments and Sites UK (ICOMOS-UK), the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), and the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural Heritage Society (WANHS) issued a joint statement:
"Today’s announcement of the five options to be discussed in the review process for the A303 road through the Stonehenge landscape, with details of how that process is to be conducted, falls far short of serious consideration of possible alternative schemes that are appropriate for this iconic World Heritage site. ICOMOS-UK, the CBA and WANHS strongly support the National Trust's views, as set out in their Press Release today. We are dismayed that the National Trust, as the country's key conservation and environmental organisation, as well as the owner of land that would be affected by most of the proposed options, has not been offered so far any opportunity to shape this review. Our three organisations welcomed the announcement made by the Roads Minister in July 2005, of a detailed review of possible options for the A303 road at Stonehenge, as a constructive way forward. However, in the event the process so far has been flawed by failure to engage the essential stakeholders or to look at the full range of appropriate alternative options. ICOMOS-UK, the CBA and the WANHS consider that the review options now being offered amount to a token consultation lacking a long-term vision that respects the international significance of Stonehenge as a World Heritage Site. We urge the Review Group to consider other preferable options that would better reflect the status and value of the overall Stonehenge landscape."
Full text of the statement: http://www.icomos-uk.org/pdf/press/stonehenge/options_review_january_2006.pdf
Contacts: ICOMOS-UK, 70 Cowcross Street, London ES1M 6EJ 020 7566 0031, email: email@example.com; Council for British Archaeology, St Mary’s House, 66 Bootham, York YO1 7BZ 01904 671417 email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Society, 41 Long Street, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 1NS 01380 727369, email: email@example.com
Notes to editors
- Details of the latest government proposals can be found on the Highways Agency website: http://www.highways.gov.uk/news/newsroom.aspx?newsid=15139370
- This news release summarizes views from news releases issued by the individual groups. It is not issued on behalf of these groups.
- Issued by Save Stonehenge! For media contacts, please see our press page.