The CBA has today submitted an application to register as an Interested Party for the forthcoming Public Examination of the application by Highways England for a Development Control Order to construct a tunnel under the World Heritage Site at Stonehenge.
Our representation read:
"The Council for British Archaeology has long maintained an interest in the protection, conservation, management and public understanding of the Stonehenge & Avebury World Heritage Site (WHS).
We have made detailed responses in recent decades to relevant consultations concerning Stonehenge. Our position has been guided by a set of Cardinal Principles, agreed by our members in General Meeting (most recently updated in November 2016), which are:
1. to protect and conserve Stonehenge itself and its landscape of inter-related monuments
2. to manage appropriately and plan for the whole WHS landscape whose prehistoric significance is now becoming increasingly clearly understood
3. to further public understanding of that increasing significance
Our members also agreed a series of principles for assessing proposed changes to the siting and design of new infrastructure and land-use (and, where relevant, the removal or alteration of the existing). CBA trustees met in December 2018 to assess the latest published plans for the A303 at Stonehenge and agreed that the CBA should register as an interested party for the public examination of the proposals.
We commend Highways England and their advisors for the considerable efforts which have been taken to improve upon previously published plans and work up proposals which will undoubtedly provide significant benefits within the WHS by removing a large part of the current A303 from its surface. However, we are not able to support the proposals as they will cause considerable damage to the surviving archaeological remains within the WHS and to the setting of key monuments within the landscape. This will have an unacceptable negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the WHS.
Our aim in registering as an interested party for the public examination is to allow us to make more detailed representations at the appropriate time and encourage further consideration to be given to the appropriate archaeological mitigation strategy to be used if the development were to go ahead in one of the world's premier archaeological landscapes. We are also concerned about the potential impact of the construction methods to be used on the groundwater levels in relation to the important Blick Mead Mesolithic site and the areas of the WHS landscape around the tunnel portals and surface dual carriageways. Further details are needed through the public examination to allow assessments to be made of the likely damage caused by the construction process.
Whilst we do not necessarily object to new development within the WHS boundary (as we accept that the boundaries are relatively arbitrary in their current positioning), we are concerned about the potential impact on the surface of the WHS of the tunnel portals and the dual carriageway A303, particularly at the western end, and the implications for the setting and appreciation of the cultural landscape.
We look forward to playing a constructive role in the public examination process to ensure that these issues of concern are explored more fully before a final decision is made."