A303 Stonehenge

The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

A303 Stonehenge

Received 10 January 2019
From Susan Rogers (Hon Secretary) on behalf of The Avebury Society

Representation

The Avebury Society, founded as a civic society in 1994, with interests in the Avebury part of the World Heritage Site (WHS), now has c.60 members. A series of inappropriate Avebury planning proposals in the 1990s brought enhanced significance to the WHS designation. This led to our participation in an Avebury Local Plan and successive WHS management plans. We are represented on the Avebury WHS Steering Committee.
We have the following objections.
1. Little consideration has been given to Avebury in relation to the A303 Stonehenge scheme which has major implications for the whole WHS. What happens to one part of the WHS sets a precedent for the other, in terms of planning safeguards and tourism including, at Avebury, potential influx of more visitors, along with problems with parking, facilities and erosion. Comprehensive studies to consider these effects should have been a pre-requisite of the scheme.
2. A c.3km tunnel was announced from the start and other viable options were not consulted upon, whereas a conference of all interested parties in 1995 agreed that a 4.5km tunnel could be an appropriate solution.
3. Promotion of the scheme involved misleading statements, e.g., that it would “protect” and “help conserve and enhance” the WHS.
4. Public consultation took place in South Wiltshire with only two exhibitions/presentations in the Avebury area at the request of the Parish Council. Our positive suggestions produced no changes. The scheme, for a WHS, should have been more widely consulted upon. Even so, it appears those responding to consultations have largely objected (78% in the first round) and their concerns have been ignored.
5. Highways England has ignored the advice of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS specialists to honour the UK’s World Heritage Convention commitments, as well as their advice, and that of the World Heritage Committee, to explore options not damaging to the WHS and its OUV.
6. The scheme does not respect local or national planning policy and guidance; nor relevant European Directives and Conventions. The World Heritage Convention and the relevant WHS Management Plan vision, together with their safeguarding of the WHS have been ignored.
7. Impact Assessment conclusions do not acknowledge the substantial harm of physical and visual impacts of the scheme on the WHS as a whole, its OUV, and its setting. This is a continuing failure, despite more recent understanding of OUV.
8. We question the statement that the existing A303 damages the OUV of the WHS; and consider that the loss of the much appreciated ‘free view’ from the road would be a seriously adverse outcome of the scheme.
9. The A303 scheme in construction and operation would be so damaging to the WHS that the designation might be withdrawn and the years of planning and involvement of all concerned parties in the Site’s protection would have been wasted, with adverse impacts on both parts of the WHS.
10. The proposals for Stonehenge are most likely to be detrimental to Avebury.