Story at a glance
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is listing Stonehenge as a World Heritage site in danger of losing its classification.
- New and proposed construction in the area is threatening the historic integrity of the site, according to experts.
- The UK government says they are working closely with UNESCO and others to preserve the site.
Stonehenge’s World Heritage designation is in danger, according to the United Nations governing body, and the United Kingdom is to blame, says one expert.
"These are places of international significance. They are the best of the best of our cultural heritage. At a time when we’re out [of the European Union] and want to be taken seriously internationally, why not use these incredible assets of such significance to help us do that?" Chris Blandford, the president of World Heritage U.K., told the Guardian.
Regardless, the U.K. is moving ahead with a proposed infrastructure project in the area that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says could affect the integrity of the site. The road improvement project involves the widening of existing roads as well as the construction of a tunnel, bridge and a new flyover junction.
In a new report, the World Heritage Centre (WHC) noted that the government had found some solutions to previous concerns, but not all — especially "substantial exposed dual carriageway sections, particularly those at the western end of the property, which would impact adversely the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property."
"Protecting the heritage and archaeology of the Stonehenge site is a priority for the government and Highways England and we will continue to work closely with Unesco, Icomos [the International Council on Monuments and Sites] and the heritage and scientific community on next steps," a government spokesperson told the Guardian.
The WHC is asking that the U.K. not proceed with the project "in its current form" and submit an updated report by next February, saying that if the plan is not sufficiently modified, the property's World Heritage status would be in danger. The decision comes not long after Liverpool lost its UNESCO World Heritage listing over the development of Liverpool Waters, including its historic center and docklands, which were initially listed "for bearing witness to the development of one of the world’s major trading centres in the 18th and 19th centuries."
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