The project to hide the A303 in a tunnel as it runs past Stonehenge is back on the government's agenda again. This "tunnel" debate has been running for over 20 years (I held my first meeting on this topic with English Heritage and the National Trust in 1993 !) and we have made no progress during that period largely because the cost of constructing a long (at least 2.8 miles) tunnel which is what campaigners wanted, was prohibitively expensive. The current proposal is for a shorter (approx 1.8 miles) tunnel though the exact positioning of the tunnel portals has not yet been announced. Not surprisingly the pro and anti tunnel brigade are sending letters to the press and, judging by what I read in the Salisbury Journal, more people oppose building the tunnel that support the idea.
I will write more, when more information becomes available.
On a totally different topic, English Heritage has agreed to fund a revised Research Framework for the Stonehenge & Avebury World Heritage Sites. This decision is partly driven by the fact that as these two sites are nominated as a single World Heritage Site, they are required by UNESCO to have a single research agenda which is currently not the case. The objectives of this exercise are :-
- To produce a resource assessment of the current state of knowledge on the historic environment of Avebury.
- To produce a review of recent research on the historic environment of Stonehenge.
- Building on both research agendas for the WHS, to produce one joint research agenda for the entire WHS. It is anticipated that this will contain both overarching and site specific research objectives.
- To produce a single strategy for the WHS based on prioritised objectives taken from the research agenda. Initially this should span a five year planning period.
- To develop a method of monitoring progress of the five year strategy in order that the strategy remains current and in order that it can be reshaped after the initial five year planning period.