No arrests made at ‘mass trespass’ at Stonehenge, police confirm

There were no arrests at a “mass trespass” protest at Stonehenge – which ended peacefully on Saturday, police have confirmed.

Protesters – who described themselves as an alliance of local residents, ecologists, activists, archaeologists and pagans – gathered at the Wiltshire site at about noon.

They were campaigning against the Government’s planned £27.4 billion investment in the strategic road network across the country, which includes a £1.7 billion plan to dig a road tunnel near Stonehenge.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps gave the go-ahead to the tunnel in November, against the recommendations of planning officials, who warned it will cause harm to the prehistoric monument.

The protestors, who described their actions as a “mass trespass”, were also gathered in support of the Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site, which has launched a legal challenge to Mr Shapps’ decision.

English Heritage closed the site to the public on Saturday due to the protest, but said it was due to reopen on Sunday.

In a statement issued on Saturday evening, a spokesman for Wiltshire Police confirmed that the event “passed peacefully”.

“A small number of people attended the event and no arrests were made,” the force spokesman said.

“Whilst we are grateful that the protest was peaceful and it quickly dispersed, we do want to remind the public that trespassing on the stones is against the law.

“We along with our partners at English Heritage are keen to help protect this iconic site for many generations to come.”

TRANSPORT Stonehenge
TRANSPORT Stonehenge

The tunnel is part of a £1.7 billion investment in the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down.

The A303, which is a popular route for motorists travelling to and from the South West, is often severely congested on the single carriageway stretch near the stones in Wiltshire.

Highways England said its plan for a two-mile tunnel will remove the sight and sound of traffic passing the site, and cut journey times.

But some environmentalists and archaeologists have voiced their opposition to the plan due to its potential impact on the area.

The project is classified as nationally significant, which means a Development Consent Order is needed for it to go ahead.

Environmental activist Dan Hooper, known as Swampy, described the £27 billion roads programme as “insane” due to carbon emissions from vehicles.

“Building more roads simply leads to more traffic and carbon,” he added.

“The Government is ignoring the uncomfortable but very real truth that time is running short. Now is a critical time to rethink our connection with nature.

“We need to put a stop to these road schemes as we did before.”

Simon Bramwell, a pagan, described the Stonehenge site as “hallowed ground” and said protesters were there to “reclaim our heritage”.

“Stonehenge has stood for 5,000 years as a testament to the strength, belief and commitment of our people to this land of ours,” Mr Bramwell said.

“After the sacrifices of the First World War, it was gifted to the British public and we are here today to take it back.”

Mr Bramwell said the tunnel will “effectively screen Stonehenge” off from people who cannot afford admission prices.