Stonehenge roads inquiry comes to an end

A PUBLIC inquiry into the closure of roads and byways surrounding Stonehenge finished today.

The inquiry, which began at Salisbury Rugby Club on September 22, concerned Wiltshire Council proposals to close byways and part of the A344 to all vehicles.

It follows on from an earlier inquiry held in June which considered English Heritage proposals to close the A344 as a whole and return the area to grass.

Taken together, the proposals would see the closure of the A344 and byways 11 and 12 to motorised traffic and the remodelling of the Airman’s Corner junction into a new and safer roundabout.

The aim of the scheme is to improve the amenity of the area as part of a plan to make it more accessible to visitors.

Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon objects to the proposals to close the byways as he said it is a violation of his human rights not to be able to access the area, particularly during Pagan ceremonies such as the solstices and equinox.

He also said it is a right to be able to see the monument from the roadside and that people shouldn’t have to pay to park.

In his closing submissions, Mr Pendragon said: “We will be robust against any such change; other groups may procrastinate or demonstrate but we will leave no stone unturned. We have fought long and hard for what little rights we have in and around Stonehenge and we will not give them up lightly. We will not go quietly into the night.”

Throughout the inquiry, objections were also heard from Orcheston Parish Council and residents who fear extra traffic will be diverted on to unsuitable roads in nearby villages, including Shrewton.

Trevor Ward, representing Wiltshire Council, said there is a “widely recognised need to improve the amenities of the area” and that the closure of the road and byways would see a reduction in noise, visual intrusion, perception of danger from traffic and damage to surfaces.

John Hobson, on behalf of English Heritage, said: “It is accepted it will result in a loss of amenity for those who will no longer be able to ride or drive a motor vehicle on byways through the World Heritage site.

“However, this loss is to be balanced against the enhancement of the experience of a much greater number of people who will benefit from the removal of motorised vehicles.”

A decision on both proposals is expected from planning inspector Alan Boyland by December.

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