Protesters against tunnel close UK’s prehistoric Stonehenge, Report

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Protesters against tunnel close UK's prehistoric Stonehenge, Report
Protesters against tunnel close UK's prehistoric Stonehenge, Report

Stonehenge has closed after a “mass trespass” by Extinction Rebellion protesters against controversial government plans to dig a £1.7bn tunnel near the prehistoric monument.

The group of protests, who described themselves as an alliance of local residents, ecologists, activists, archaeologists and pagans, gathered at the Wiltshire site at about noon on Saturday.

English Heritage closed the site to the public following the arrival of the protesters, but said it is expected to reopen “as normal” on Sunday.

They added: “We can confirm the demonstration is over, there were no arrests on site and no damage.”

The protesters were demonstrating against the Government’s planned £27.4bn investment in the road network across the country, as well as a controversial £1.7bn plan to dig a road tunnel near Stonehenge.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps gave the go-ahead to the scheme in November, despite planning officials warning it would cause “permanent, irreversible harm” to the World Heritage Site.

Protesters said they also gathered in support of Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site, which has launched a legal challenge to Mr Shapps’ decision.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: “It is an offence under the Ancient Monuments Act (1979) for people to enter the monument area without English Heritage’s permission.

“Whilst we respect people’s right to demonstrate peacefully, we do not condone behaviour that disrupts and endangers the site and the people who visit or work here.”

Highways England say the two-mile tunnel will remove the sight and sound of traffic passing the site, and cut journey times.

The A303, which is a popular route for motorists travelling to and from the South West, is often severely congested on the single carriageway stretch near the stones in Wiltshire.

But some environmentalists and archaeologists have voiced their opposition to the plan due to its potential impact on the area.

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