Most people in England have heard of the proposed changes to the Stonehenge site and have an opinion one way or the other on them. As English Heritage puts it in the brochure you are handed upon arrival, it seems certain that construction is going to start as soon as possible to help make Stonehenge the serene, sacred place it was intended to be.
Plans are in place ("The Stonehenge Project"), supported by English Heritage, World Heritage, and the Highways Agency, to "conceal the A303 trunk road in a bored tunnel past the Stones and to close part of the A344 that currently runs between the Stones and the existing visitor facilities. The current car park will be grassed over and a new state-of-the-art visitor center will be built approximately 2 miles away from the monument... A land train will transport people into the archaeologically rich World Heritage Site landscape to within walking distance of the stones."
These plans do sound quite nice; Stonehenge would be returned to its solitary spot high on the Salisbury Plains with no cars whisking past it, which is how I assume the builders wanted it to be. However, there are a few objections.
My first, and totally personal, objection is the cost of this project. Even if the Highways Agency absorbs the cost for boring the tunnel, English Heritage will be able to charge more due to the higher level of facilities, and everyone will have to pay it, there being no other way to see the henge (by peeking over the fence, as I did). One can hope that the admission prices won't balloon up into the range of stately houses and castles, some of which can cost upwards of £16 to enter! I think that this is an amazing, historical site that people should be let into without breaking the bank.
The original plans for the henge involved a different form of tunnel, which I understand from the site Stonehenge at Risk would essentially be one that was bulldozed straight through the middle of a World Heritage site. The original page, which I believe was published in the early 2000s and is thus slightly out of date, still makes its point quite well. They say that "Stonehenge does not exist in isolation. It has stood in a landscape for thousands or years consisting of a wide open plain surrounded by local features including round and long barrows, trackways, field systems, and other earthworks such as the massive Cursus less than a mile to the north. The site of the tunnel and the disruption that will be required to build it, according to RESCUE, covers 20-30 hectares of landscape. This area, whether it is 13.5 hectares or 20-30 hectares, includes a number of archaeological sites."
So, the question is, which should be favored? Saving Stonehenge's landscape or the archaeological wonders underneath? I hope that both can be done to some extent, and hopefully the bored tunnel currently being proposed will have minimal impact on the rest of the site and help to recreate the past landscape around Stonehenge. I would certainly love to come back and see it in its restored glory (yes, I would even pay a bit more), but I just hope that it is not at too much cost to the surrounding Plains.