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Tension at Stonehenge
An article on the BBC - Stonehenge tunnel excavation sparks 'done deal' fears - reports that diggers have been spotted at the proposed site of a controversial tunnel near Stonehenge, before the end of a public consultation about the project.
Activity at the eastern tunnel portal. Images: BBC/PA
The excavations near the World Heritage Site have prompted angry campaigners to suggest the planned 1.8-mile underground dual carriageway is a "done deal".
However, Highways England said it was "fact-finding work and not construction". Plans for the road were unveiled by the government this month.
Dr Kate Fielden from Stonehenge Alliance stated that Highways England is pursuing this scheme before they've even finished the archaeological excavation.
She goes on to explain that there has not been a full account of the work being undertaken, its results and investigations. Moreover, the location is a major concern; it is right below the ancient avenue which is a key feature of the pre-designed prehistoric landscape.
Dr David Jacques, from The University of Buckingham, has been leading an archaeological project at nearby Blick Mead since 2005. He states that there is no sense of balance in this consultation. It seems to be simply Highways England explaining what they are going to do. They are putting a lot of energy into this but Blick Mead and the local landowners have yet to be invited into the consultation process.
In response, a Highways England spokesman stated that they are undertaking geotechnical and archaeological surveys in and around the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, to add to the evolving knowledge and understanding of this unique landscape and help identify any issues when taking forward options for detailed assessment and design. A public consultation to gather views of drivers and residents runs until 5 March.
Read more about Stonehenge in the British Isles Prehistory Archive: