Stonehenge could lose World Heritage status if tunnel is built

Traffic passes Stonehenge on the A303 road in Wiltshire, as Highways England is holding a public consultation on its plans for putting the A303 into a 1.8-mile (2.9km) dual carriageway tunnel where it passes the ancient stone circle to cut congestion and improve the surroundings.

The latest proposals for a tunnel near the historic Stonehenge site have been slammed by historians, who warn the ancient monument could lose its status as a World Heritage site if the works go ahead.

The proposed 1.8-mile tunnel would ease traffic on the heavily congested A303, which passes near the Stonehenge site.

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The Highways Agency insists that the tunnel would be deep enough not to damage the monument, which is believed to have been constructed between 3,000BC and 2,000BC. The revised plans have been welcomed by English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust.

They said: "This is a once in a generation opportunity to reunite this ancient landscape giving people the opportunity to tread pathways used by our ancestors who built the monuments, to visit and appreciate the monuments and to see and hear wildlife without the intrusion of traffic noise from the road."

However, some historians have warned that the proposed works could see Stonehenge's World Heritage status taken away. Others expressed concern about nearby Blick Mead. It's the only place in Britain where human habitation can be traced back to 8,000BC, and could be destroyed if the works go ahead.

In October, volunteers found the preserved hoof prints of ancient cattle at the site. Professor David Jacques, who led the excavation, said: "There is no excuse for this site to be totally neglected. I mean it is right next to the flyover and about 500 metres from the Eastern portal.

"People have known it has been there for a long time.

"Places like this are incredibly rare in the British Isles and anywhere in the world and we have essentially got a unique national archive.

"With what Highways England plans to do, with their eight metre high flyover, the water will be drained holding all those organisms and the site will in effect, it will be killed."

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