UNESCO wants to add Stonehenge to endangered sites list

Stonehenge has had UNESCO World Heritage status since 1986.

The United Nations cultural organization is recommending that Stonehenge, England's famous prehistoric site, be added to the list of World Heritage in Danger, which will be seen as a nuisance for London.

The site has come to the attention of the UN body over the British government's plans to build a controversial road tunnel near the World Heritage site in south-west England.

In a written decision seen by AFP, the World Heritage Committee recommended that Stonehenge be added to the UN's list of heritage in danger "with a view to mobilizing international support".

The decision will have to be voted on by World Heritage Committee member states at a meeting in New Delhi in July.

One diplomat said the decision was likely to be approved.

Stonehenge has had UNESCO world heritage status since 1986.

Inclusion on the UN body's endangered heritage list is considered a disgrace by some countries.

Last July, the British government approved the construction of a controversial road tunnel near Stonehenge despite efforts by campaigners to stop the £1.7 billion project.

The diplomat pointed out that London had decided to approve the project "despite repeated warnings from the World Heritage Committee since 2017".

The planned tunnel aims to ease congestion on the existing main road into the Southwest of England, which becomes particularly busy during peak holiday periods.

Experts have warned of "lasting, irreversible damage" to the area.

Druids staged protests against the tunnel at a site they consider sacred and where they celebrate the summer and winter solstices - the longest and shortest days of the year.

Built in several stages between about 3000 and 2300 BC, Stonehenge is one of the world's most important prehistoric megalithic monuments in terms of its size, complex layout and architectural precision.

UNESCO maintains a list of World Heritage Sites around the world, a prestigious title that countries compete to award to their most famous natural and anthropogenic sites.

Inclusion on the list can help develop tourism but comes with obligations to protect the site.

The port city of Liverpool in northwest England lost its World Heritage status for its docks in 2021 after UNESCO experts concluded that new property development in the city had dealt too big a blow to its historic fabric.| BGNES