The associations The Stonehenge Alliance and Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) went to Paris on Tuesday, September 5, to submit to UNESCO a petition against the construction of a tunnel near the ancient site of Stonehenge (southwest). from England). The petition has collected 225,000 signatures from 147 countries and urges the UK government to end the road project “damaging”.
“We want UNESCO to understand that its position of opposition to this road project, which is very damaging to this World Heritage site of Stonehenge, benefits from the support of hundreds of thousands of people around the world”said John Adams, president of the Stonehenge Alliance and one of three directors of SSWHS. “We urge her to remain strong in the face of the British Government’s indifference to this iconic British heritage site. »
Permission to build the tunnel was first granted in 2020, before being overturned by the High Court in 2021. Its ruling raised concerns about the environmental impact, as well as the illegality of the decision. of the Minister of Transport at the time, Grant Shapps, who had failed to consider alternatives, even though he was obliged to do so by the status of the site, which has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1986.
The Stonehenge site in southern England.
Unesco opposed the plan in 2019, considering that the tunnel would have a ” negative impact “ at the prehistoric site. In 2021, the NGO warned that Stonehenge would be included on the list of world heritage sites in danger if the project was not modified.
Despite opposition from defense associations and UNESCO, the British Government approved the controversial plan last July, partially modifying the original plan.
“Only three World Heritage sites have been delisted since the signing of the World Heritage Convention in 1972”, underlines Chris Todd, director of the Transport Action Network (TAN), member of the Stonehenge Alliance and director of SSWHS. If the site were to lose its World Heritage status, it would be a “international embarrassment for the UK”.
The most recent was Liverpool in England, which lost its status in 2021 due to the redevelopment of the port, whose very tall buildings and the new football stadium were going to cause disruption. “irreversible damage”. The site had already been placed on the endangered world heritage list in 2012, because UNESCO considered it seriously threatened by urban and real estate developments.
In August, SSWHS filed a new complaint with the High Court challenging the Government’s decision.
The Stonehenge site in 2007