Critics argue that the tunnel may destroy archeological treasures as well as obscure the view of the sunset on the winter solstice - one of the most important dates at Stonehenge.
Because Stonehenge is one of the most famous landmarks in Britain, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The flow of tourists, however, can back up traffic, which is why the UK government has approved a plan to construct a £2 billion ($2.4 billion) 1.8-mile tunnel underneath the site which would widen the nearby highway.
Those who oppose the tunnel include archaeologists, academics, and individuals who have either adopted or are infatuated with neo-pagan beliefs. The main concern is that the roadwork will destroy vital heritage, particularly “archaeological treasures hidden beneath the landscape,” according to CNN. Another argument against the roadwork is that light pollution at one end of the tunnel will obscure the view of the sunset on the winter solstice – one of the most important dates at the stone circles which are located in Wiltshire, England.
“Recent finds show this place is the birthplace of Britain, and its origins go back to the resettlement of this island after the Ice Age,” commented Tom Holland, a historian and author who opposes the plan. “It staggers belief that we can inject enormous quantities of concrete to build a tunnel that will last at best 100 years and therefore decimate a landscape that has lasted for millennia.”
The local chamber of commerce president and Amesbury Museum chairman Andy Rhind-Tutt told the press that the “destructive” tunnel would essentially “put a time bomb of irreversible destruction on one of the world’s greatest untouched landscapes.” Rhind-Tutt also added that the tunnel is a poor solution to the increasing traffic, as “we will still see the same tailbacks we currently get.”
Regardless of pushback from the public, the UK government is relentless with its efforts to construct the tunnel. According to Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, this is because the “investment” will “transform the 1303 and benefit those locally by cutting congestion and improving journey times.”
“It will also boost the economy, linking people with jobs and businesses with customers,” Grayling added.
UNESCO, which designated the circles of stones as a World Heritage Site in 1986, said they could get behind the idea; however, final plans have not yet been reviewed.
Opinions on the plan will be received by the government until March 5th. Once a consensus is decided, the route will be announced late 2017. Construction is set to begin in 2020 and will last four years.
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