1.         Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (C 373bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1986

Criteria  (i)(ii)(iii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/373/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/373/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/373/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003

WHC:

A report has been received from the State Party on 31 January 2003 underlining that an archaeological condition survey of the Stonehenge part of the World Heritage site is underway and will shortly be completed. This will complement the existing condition survey for Avebury. The launch of a Special Countryside Stewardship Scheme for Stonehenge and Avebury was a major success for the World Heritage site in 2002. Funded by the European Union, this grant scheme encourages farmers to convert arable fields to pasture. This will remove from cultivation some important archaeological sites, enhance the landscape setting of Stonehenge and enhance the ecological value of the World Heritage site. The Scheme is managed by the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Concerning the Stonehenge Project, the State Party has been working with key stakeholders to improve the setting and conservation of the Stonehenge part of the World Heritage site in accordance with the policies contained in the World Heritage site Management Plan through the development and implementation of the Stonehenge Project. The Committee has supported the general approach adopted to deal with the problems of the site. In 2000, ICOMOS confirmed that they were in full agreement with the proposals for a 2 km cut-and-cover tunnel. Since the last report to the Bureau, work has continued on the development of the scheme designs for the roads and for the visitor centre. Work includes full environmental impact assessments.

In 2002, a full appraisal of the options for the length and method of constructing the tunnel was undertaken. On the basis of this appraisal, Ministers decided that their preferred option was for a 2.1 km bored tunnel rather than the previously proposed 2 km cut-and-cover tunnel. This longer tunnel using less intrusive construction techniques will minimize the impact of the road scheme on the World Heritage site. The estimated cost of the longer bored tunnel is £183m (US$ 298m), some £30m (US$ 49m) more than the original 2 km cut-and-cover tunnel. Ministers concluded that the 2.1 km tunnel met the requirements of the World Heritage site Management Plan.

Progress continues on the development of the scheme for the new visitor centre in close collaboration with the National Trust, the charitable organization that owns nearly half of the Stonehenge World Heritage site landscape. The scheme is now expected to cost £ 57m (US$ 93m). So far, the Department for Culture Media and Sport has committed £ 13m (US$ 21m) and the Heritage Lottery Fund £25m (US$41m). Remaining funding will come from English Heritage’s core budget and a substantial fundraising campaign. It is now expected that the formal consent procedures for both the road scheme and the visitor centre will begin in late spring 2003. These will provide additional information on the environmental impact of the proposals, which will allow full assessment of the projects to be made before decisions are taken on whether or not consent should be granted.

Concerning Silbury Hill, Avebury, the report mentioned that English Heritage is continuing to make progress in ensuring the long-term conservation of Silbury Hill, an important part of the Avebury portion of this World Heritage site. Following the stabilisation work undertaken in 2001, a geophysical survey of the whole Hill was carried out by Skanska Cementation, on behalf of English Heritage. The results indicated that the Hill is a robust structure, basically stable, although some areas were identified for further investigation. An area on the northern flank of the Hill considered potentially unstable, was evaluated as being stable after detailed seismic survey work, coring and ground investigation during 2002. English Heritage is now planning to investigate the area of the previously collapsed shaft by drilling two small cores or boreholes in the area. The information gathered will help us design long-term remedial work. The cores are due to be sunk during March 2003 and fieldwork will be completed by the end of March. After that, English Heritage will assess the results, and may or may not, depending on the results, design a programme of remedial works to the Hill in order to ensure its long-term conservation.

ICOMOS:

Following the 24th session of the World Heritage Committee in December 2000, ICOMOS received additional information concerning the different options for the tunnel project. This information has caused ICOMOS to modify its point of view on the initial solution of the State Party (2km cut-and-cover tunnel). It has adopted a position in favour of the longer tunnel project (4.5km) and welcomes that the State Party has opted for a bored tunnel solution. It considered such a solution to correspond best to the aim of protecting the exceptional value of the Stonehenge landscape.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7B.82

The World Heritage Committee [48],

1. Taking note of the changes made to the construction technique for the tunnel,;

2. Welcomes the State Party's decision to construct a bored tunnel, which is less damaging for the Stonehenge, Avebury  and Associated Sites  World Heritage property than a cut-and-cover tunnel;

3. Noting that the Environmental Impact Assessment of the road improvements to the A303 are available on the web site www.highways.gsi.gov.uk ,

4. Requests the State Party to provide a progress report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session in 2004.

[48]  Decision adopted following written amendment proposed by the State Party.