A303 Stonehenge

The following was our president’s submission to the public consultation on the A303 at Stonehenge:

1 Western section: Please provide us with any comments you may have on our proposals for the viaduct crossing of the River Till valley.

I do not object to a bypass for Winterbourne Stoke and a northern route seems to be logical, but the provision of such a bypass does not depend on proposals affecting Stonehenge

The junction for the bypass and the current A303 should be sited further away from Longbarrow Roundabout in order not to be physically and visually detrimental to the setting of the World Heritage Site (WHS).

2 Western section: Please provide us with any comments you may have on our proposals for the A303/A360 Longbarrow junction.

A huge interchange at this location and so close to the WHS boundary is unacceptable. The proposals take up too much archaeologically sensitive land, and severely damage the setting of the Winterbourne Stoke barrow group within the WHS.

The proposed very large construction compounds will cause massive damage to areas with significant archaeological potential and their legacy will be long lasting. There is no neutral place to site these compounds.

3 Western section: Do you have any other comments about our proposals for the western section of the scheme (Winterbourne Stoke bypass to Longbarrow junction)?

Lack of detail about street furniture and lighting in your documentation and video makes it difficult to assess the full impacts of the junction when in operation.  However, it is obvious that two roundabouts, and underpass and slip roads would have a severely adverse impact on the setting of the WHS both day and at night.

4 Central section: Please provide us with any comments you may have on our proposals for the green bridge (No.4) at or near the western boundary of the World Heritage Site.

I strongly object to the proposals for massive tunnel portals and a 4-lane expressway in deep cuttings.  They would be both visually and audibly intrusive within the WHS.

The proposed green bridge will create a major risk; protestors could use it to target traffic below; it would also create the risk of becoming a suicide point given the significance of the location. To prevent either of these events the bridge would have to have physical barriers which would be unacceptable inside the WHS and destroy any benefit the bridge was meant to have in allowing a walking access from the south to the monuments.

5 Central section: Please provide us with any comments you may have on our proposals for the cutting on the western approach to the tunnel.

The proposal contravenes the advice of the World Heritage Committee to the Government to explore options for the A303 that do not involve dual carriageway cuttings within the WHS.

The footprint of the road proposal should be contained entirely outside the WHS.  The proposals would not only permanently divide this part of the WHS and key monuments and monument groups it would also compromise their settings and would destroy their integrity and relationships to one another.

A longer tunnel would be better than the suggested cutting, thus negating any need for this intrusion into the WHS.

The noise that would reverberate out from traffic in this cutting would be too intrusive in this sensitive location.

6 Central section: Please provide us with any comments you may have on our proposals for the western entrance to the tunnel.

The tunnel entrances should be outside the WHS in line with UNESCO’s advice. Excavation for the portals could destroy important archaeological evidence.

The noise and physical impacts of the tunnel entrance, and road cutting would destroy the integrity of this part of the WHS forever.

7 Central section: Do you have any other comments about our proposals for the central section of the scheme within the World Heritage Site?

The tunnel portals and expressway entering them would lie just east of the Avenue, one of the most important prehistoric features in the Stonehenge landscape. The Avenue is a monument worthy of proper restoration in the landscape; its existence indicates a designed route to or from the river to the henge.  The proposed new road cutting and portals would dominate this ancient valley route both visually and aurally, destroying the true significance of this key monument.

I am concerned with the impact of the boring proposed; this must not impact on the hydrology of the area; on water-logged peat and greensand deposits alongside the River Avon, as well as nationally significant Mesolithic sites, including Blick Mead, and other water-logged archaeology.

Byways 11 and 12 should be left alone; the problem with them is Wiltshire Highways inability to properly regulate their use.

There should be no new byway created to link Byways 11 and 12. Wiltshire Highways are powerless to control improper use of 11 & 12 as it is. A new byway is illogical and would just exacerbate the problem.

The portal will also have significant impact on the Nile Clumps and we would agree with the Nelson Society’s view that this monument to an important event in British history should not be lost to future generations.

All milestones affected by the scheme to be protected during construction and to be restored.

The portal entrance would be yet another target for protestors above the road and for suicides – on The Avenue would seem to make an appropriate choice for leaving this earth to go a final journey.

Walkers in this area would be seriously disturbed by the noise and visual impacts of the expressway.

8 Eastern section: Please provide us with any comments you may have on our proposals for the A303 flyover at Countess roundabout.

The proposed east tunnel entrance is close to and would adversely affect the settings of the Stonehenge Avenue and Vespasian’s Camp, in direct conflict with UNESCO’s advice. It will also destroy the integrity of Blick Mead Mesolithic site the extent of which remains  unknown;  it may continue below the present A303 and, if so, any such levels could be damaged by piling and/or by compression beneath the weight of the flyover.

The noise, light and air pollution from the flyover would be detrimental to the health of nearby residents.

The flyover, whether on piles or an embankment, would become a dominant feature with adverse visual and noise impacts on the locality. There would be adverse impacts on Listed barns at Countess Farm, and Grade I Listed Amesbury Abbey and its Registered parkland; while the Amesbury Conservation Area would not be ‘conserved or enhanced’.

9 Eastern section: Do you have any other comments about our proposals for the eastern section of the scheme (Countess junction to just beyond the Solstice Park junction)?

Proposed alternative routes for traffic during road construction and tunnel closures would produce chaos and inconvenience to local residents.

The proposals indicate that pedestrians and some wheeled vehicles on the tunnel excluded list would be directed on to a new Byway, but that byway should not be allowed. The alternative diversion routes through Larkhill and Bulford are all through built-up areas which will suffer increased traffic noise and pollution. This is unacceptable.

Part 3: The environmental effects of the scheme

10 Do you have any comments on the preliminary environmental information provided for the scheme?

The information provided so far is inadequate for decision making. Many surveys appear to be incomplete and more investigations are awaited.

Local people would suffer noise, poor air quality and inconvenience. Millions would lose the valued view of the Stones from the A303.

The opening up of the landscape to the south of the current A303 could lead to disturbance of the RSPB reserve and to the Normanton Down barrow cemetery and other monuments.

Part 4: Additional comments

11 Do you have any other comments you would like to make about the scheme?

I strongly object to this proposal as it will only harm this most important and culturally significant monument and its landscape setting.  Other and better proposals have been consistently ignored solely to avoid costs.  This is not a proper consultation just a box-ticking exercise; the outcome has been pre-determined.

The UK Government’s obligations for the World Heritage Convention and planning policy and guidance for development in the WHS are being disregarded. In view of UNESCO’s advice we are surprised that this scheme is being progressed at all. Digging large holes into the WHS does not preserve it for human posterity. The proposals display a total ignorance of the meaning of the outstanding universal value (OUV) of Stonehenge in its landscape. The scheme does nothing to ‘help to conserve and sustain or enhance the WHS as claimed in this consultation.

Much new archaeological evidence has come to light at Bulford and Larkhill that show that the current limit of the WHS is artificial and many more related sites are likely to exist beyond the current boundary, making any intrusion unacceptable.

This  scheme has been developed for passing motorist not local people whose lives will be significantly worsened by these proposals. The disruption to local people’s lives during construction and after will be immense and the construction of a flyover will add permanent and increasing additional noise, light and air pollution  for local residents.

The scheme will not solve the problem unless all the other improvements along the A303 are completed as well. There is no guarantee that these other schemes will ever be funded. As the other locations for planned improvements are less contentious that at Stonehenge then they should all be completed first, allowing more time for the right decision to be made about this site that will serve all future generations of mankind.

The scheme, like all others of the kind, is unwarranted. It is using old thinking to solve the problem. Technology will soon change traffic for ever. Electric vehicles will reduce the noise and pollution problem around Stonehenge. Driverless technology will make it possible to control speed of vehicles passing by so that motorists do not bunch up causing congestion.

Therefore, this scheme should be frozen until i) all other problems along the A303 have been solved and ii) until we are sure how new technology will change driving and traffic in the near future.

A tunnel at such site with world-wide significance will make a wonderful target for terrorists looking for a high profile, high impact site.

The proposed scheme would deny future generations the opportunity to explore and understand the WHS as it should be experienced.

For these reasons I strongly object to the A303 Stonehenge proposals and I would request that you reconsider the scheme and properly and openly consult on alternative options that cause no further damage to the World Heritage Site, including options that do not involve building more roads.