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Call for Stonehenge tunnel portal redesign

Stonehenge Closeup 3to2

The proposal for the Stonehenge tunnel’s western portal needs improvement, heritgate bodies said today.

English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust have given their initial feedback for the proposed A303 Stonehenge Tunnel consultation.

The proposals are for a 2.9km long tunnel which will take traffic away from the A303 close the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS).

The groups generally support the plans, saying moving the A303 underground would allow the ancient processional route called Stonehenge Avenue to be reinstated and reunite the north and south sides of the monument.

But they said the western portal plans are “cause for concern”. Their problem lies in its proximity to a group of ancient burial mounds called the Normanton Down Barrow Group, part of the reason why the site has World Heritage Status. The groups say they will provide feedback to Highways England on this in its detailed consultation response to the portal’s position and design.

“This proposal is a big step in the right direction. We have already seen the benefits of removing the old visitor facilities and grassing over the A344. The proposed tunnel could complete that transformation and finally do justice to our greatest prehistoric monument, dramatically improving its setting and reconnecting it with the wider landscape. We do have concerns about particular aspects of the proposals which we will share with Highways England and we will continue to look carefully at the plans as they evolve,” said English Heritage chief executive Kate Mavor.

A Highways England spokesperson said: “We are working closely with key organisations within the World Heritage site, and we will continue to find the best solution possible to improve journeys for drivers while also protecting Stonehenge.

“The consultation on plans to relieve congestion on the A303 is currently ongoing and feedback we receive from everyone is really important in helping us to refine our proposed option.”

The consultation finishes on March 5.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • When I mentioned that there were plans under consideration for the construction of a tunnel on the A303 near Stonehenge I was met with incredulity and asked if it was an April fools joke. After explaining that the very busy road detracts from the international heritage site I began to wander if it has all got out of hand. After all a tunnel is very costly to construct and maintain so surely there has to be a better solution.
    A few much less costly and disruptive options could be considered.
    1. Trees
    There is evidence that the area was wooded in ancient times. The planting of a small forest of trees would screen the road from sight and help the ecology of the area.
    2. Acoustic treatment.
    If trees alone are considered not to be sufficient to reduce traffic noise at the site then acoustic barriers could be investigated.
    3. Cutting
    The road could be put in a relatively shallow cutting to remove it from view. Spoil from the cutting could be placed on the side facing the monument to form an embankment and noise from traffic could be further reduced as in options 1 and 2 above or with the added option to put an acoustic roof over the cutting.
    All of these options are obviously less costly and disruptive than a tunnel and could be built alongside the existing road.
    Peter Owen

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