by Olivia Rudgard and Social Affairs Correspondent, The Telegraph, May 7, 2018
The Stonehenge tunnel must be abandoned because it will deprive drivers of the view, the former chairman of the National Trust has said.
Sir Simon Jenkins, who held the role between 2008 and 2014, said that the standing stones were best enjoyed at a distance by drivers passing on a nearby road.
In a letter to the Times, the journalist and author criticised plans to build a 1.8 mile tunnel passing near the stones to ease congestion on the nearby A303.
The £1.6bn plan is also designed to restore the tranquil setting of the World Heritage Site.
But Sir Simon said that despite the "assumption" that Stonehenge "belongs to archaeologists and to English Heritage", most people who enjoy the stones do so from their cars as they pass by.
"The stones look magnificent from this distance. They have no need of close inspection. They can be appreciated at a glimpse, without need of visitor centres, car parks, coaches and multimillion-pound tunnels.
"Why should the overwhelming majority of those who enjoy Stonehenge be deprived of this pleasure at vast public expense to satisfy a profession and a quango?" he said.
A £27m visitor centre opened at the site in 2013 and visitors can travel to the prehistoric monument by shuttle bus. A footpath allowing them to see the stones for free also opened at the end of last year.
Plans for the tunnel were detailed earlier this year and a public consultation ended last week.
Highways England is expected to seek Government approval later this year with a view to beginning construction in 2021. The tunnel would then open to the public in 2026.
The plans are backed by heritage groups including Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage, which runs the visitor centre.
Last week the International Council on Monuments and Sites criticised the plans, saying the tunnel was too short and that the dual carriageways either side would destroy archaeological treasures.
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