More than 100 protesters have entered Stonehenge illegally to express concern over plans for a two-mile tunnel under the world heritage site.
Last month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps approved the £ 1.7bn project, which will include eight miles of extended dual carriageway along the A303 in Wiltshire.
A broad alliance of residents, environmentalists, climate and land justice activists and pagans joined the handover. There were chants, drums and speeches about the damage they say the road construction plan will cause.
A small number of police officers, along with English Heritage officials and security guards, maintained a low-key presence and did not attempt to stop the massive invasion.
Speakers at the memorial raised concerns about the government’s £ 27 billion road program and its override of planning inspectors’ recommendations against approval of the eight-mile dual carriageway and tunnel. from two miles to two miles on site.
Dan Hooper, who became known during road protests in the 1990s as “Swampy,” attended the massive invasion on Saturday. He said: “This is the union of people who say we have had enough. Given that road transport is the largest source of carbon emissions in the UK, this is insane. Building more roads simply generates more traffic and more carbon.
“The government is ignoring the uncomfortable but very real truth that time is running out. Now is a critical time to rethink our connection to nature. We have to end these highway projects like we did before. “
Indra Donfrancesco, one of the protesters, said: “Stonehenge is a place revered by our ancestors from a time that worshiped nature and now it is awakening the spirit of the people to rise up, calling us to act to defend our planet for their survival. “
Everyone at the trespasser was urged to sign a Beat the Bulldozer pledge, which is being coordinated by Stonehenge Heritage Action Group.
Shapps struck down a report from five planning inspectors who recommended denying consent to the plan. The road improvements are intended to widen traffic bottlenecks on a major route to the south west of England.
Historic England and the National Trust argue that diverting the underground road will improve the site, but Druids, environmental activists and archaeologists have opposed the plans.
Shapps accepted that the development would cause damage to the 4,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site, but concluded that it would not be substantial and would be outweighed by public benefit.
The campaign group Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS), a new organization created by supporters of the Stonehenge Alliance, has started a fundraising campaign to pay for legal action. In its letter to Shapps, the organization said the proposals violated Unesco’s world heritage convention.
In March, the government announced the £ 27.4 billion RIS2 road program, including the A303 Stonehenge scheme. The Planning Inspectorate, which examined all the evidence and concluded that there would be “permanent and irreversible damage” to the site, recommended that the plan be rejected.
A legal challenge is being launched. SSWHS has commissioned the law firm Leigh Day and attorneys Victoria Hutton and David Wolfe QC to investigate the legality of the decision.
Stonehenge, along with Avebury and the surrounding landscapes, were designated a World Heritage Site in 1986 due to its unique Bronze Age and Neolithic monuments and sites dating back 6,000 years.
The Department of Transportation outlined its reasons for greenlighting the plan in a decision letter.
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