The Paris-based International Council on Monuments and Sites – Icomos- has objected to plans by Highways England for a road tunnel bedside the ancient monument Stonehenge.
Icomos, which advises the United Nations on protection of world heritage sites, has written to Highways England urging a rethink of the planned tunnel that would be just under 3kmk long.
It argues that the tunnel and the dualling of the A303 carriageways either side would damage the landscape and destroy archaeological evidence pertaining to the site’s use by pagan as a religious area.
Icomos has proposed instead a bypass farther south of Stonehenge.
Highways England hopes to start work on the project, estimated to cost around €1.8 billion, in 2021 for opening in 2026. The tunnel and dualling is supported by conservations groups English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust.
However, former chairman of the National Trust, Simon Jenkins, has criticised plans to build the tunnel. The site is believed to have been built around 3,100 BC. Jenkins reportedly said that most people who enjoy the Neolithic standing stones do so from their cars as they pass by. A tunnel would negate this pleasure and at vast cost to the taxpayers.
Earlier this year, Turner & Townsend was appointed to a three-year contract for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, part of a series of planned upgrades to A303/A358 corridor to improve connectivity between the south east and south west of England.
Turner & Townsend will provide commercial services including estimating, benchmarking performance, commercial reporting and cost management in the period leading up to construction. The project is undergoing consultation for a preferred route.