UNESCO proposes putting Stonehenge on 'danger' list

Stonehenge under a blue sky
Stonehenge and its landscape has been a World Heritage Site since 1986 [BBC]

Stonehenge has been put forward as a site to be added to UNESCO's World Heritage in Danger list.

The UN organisation designated the ancient monument in Wiltshire as a world heritage site in 1986, but plans to build a tunnel nearby to ease issues on the A303 have caused concern.

A draft written decision from the World Heritage Committee suggests adding Stonehenge to the danger list, a proposal that will be voted on in July.

National Highways and UK heritage charities say the tunnel would improve the landscape by eliminating the road above ground.

The A303 with cars and lorry and Stonehenge in the background
Traffic issues on the A303, which runs close to Stonehenge, have been a consistent issue [BBC]

The vote will be held by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) at a meeting in New Delhi between 21-31July.

In its document, the committee "reiterates its previous requests" to change the plan, preferably to include a longer tunnel which could go all the way under the site and not disturb the area with exit and entry portals.

'Damage to reputation'

The Stonehenge Alliance - a campaign group against the tunnel - has welcomed the vote.

Historian Tom Holland, the group's president, said: "The new government will have the perfect opportunity to reverse a road scheme that is not only ludicrously expensive, but risks huge damage to the country’s international reputation."

Increased tourism is often seen as a benefit to World Heritage designation, but there are also responsibilities to protect a site.

However, the tunnel plan, which has split the local community and led to regular protests and repeated legal battles, has been on the UK government's agenda for decades.

Traffic issues on the A303 have been a consistent concern in that time.

Liverpool was stripped of its World Heritage status in 2021 after the UN committee claimed developments threatened the heritage value of the city's waterfront.

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