UNESCO’S World Heritage Committee has called on the government to rethink plans to build a 2.9km for A303 past Stonehenge.

Thr group agreed this morning (July 6) that the benefits a 2.9km tunnel would bring to the centre of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS) cannot be offset against the damage it would cause to other parts of the WHS.

It recommends that the Government reviews the scheme to widen the A303 road so that it does not adversely affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the WHS. 

The UNESCO committee has encouraged the Government to “explore further options with a view to avoiding impacts on the OUV of the property”, including a southern bypass for the A303 or a longer tunnel “to remove dual carriageway cuttings from the property”.

Representatives of the Stonehenge Alliance present to hear today’s decision were delighted that UNESCO has firmly signalled to the UK Government that the OUV of the WHS must be fully respected. 

Kate Fielden, honourary secretary to the Alliance said: “It is very heartening that our concerns about the A303 widening project that we have voiced over many years are now being addressed by UNESCO.

"It is to be hoped that the Government will wish to adopt a more considered approach at Stonehenge that meets the demands of the 1972 World Heritage Convention for conservation, protection and rehabilitation of the whole WHS for future generations to enjoy.”

Kate Freeman from Friends of the Earth South West said: "The UNESCO report was critical of the inadequacy of meaningful involvement of the top archaeology specialists and the wider community, including ourselves.

"We look forward to positively engaging with future solutions for the WHS.”