Living with a UNESCO world heritage site

ICOMOS are sharpening their teeth over plans for a road tunnel on the A303 at Stonehenge.

ICOMOS or the International Council of Monuments and Sites, the UK based advisory body have weighed in to the debate over the World Heritage Site.

Their response to planners suggests that the scheme to build a tunnel near Stonehenge will have irreversible damage on the World Heritage Site. Furthermore ICOMOS criticised the consultation and said it needed to be far more robust.

With traffic congestion a major issue in the area and economic benefits to quicker travel across the country, the debate is set to become even more charged.

ICOMOS concluded that the tunnel should be longer and take a wider route so that it did not impact on Stonehenge and take away from its Outstanding Universal Values.

They also asked why AONB land was being preserved, whilst the WHS was being impacted upon.

In theory if approved against the will of ICOMOS the next stage could be an official mission from UNESCO to view the site and report back to the full UNESCO session, which takes place each year to review impacts on the 1052 sites that are located in 165 countries. Stonehenge will undoubtedly be discussed.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire that dates back to 3000 BC. The monument is owned by the Crown and was inscribed as a WHS site in 1986. It is one of the most famous monuments in Britain.

Potentially the UNESCO mission could recommend that Stonehenge be placed on the Endangered List. Before this occurred UNESCO and ICOMOS would lobby Historic England and the Government to stop or alter the plans. If this could not be accomplished UNESCO could resort to placing the inscription on the Endangered List. As of today there are 55 sites on the UNESCO sites in danger list. Sites can remove themselves from the list if they can prove to UNESCO changes have been made to satisfy the committee.

Only 2 sites have ever been delisted by UNESCO the most notable being the Dresden Elbe Valley WHS, which was delisted in 2009 after the construction of the Waldschlosschen Bridge in a central zone of the WHS. According to the UNESCO Committee the site was delisted because the site failed to maintain its outstanding universal value as inscribed.

 

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