Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Julian Richards Stonehenge Tunnel Objection in full
or a much shorter piece to camera by Dr. Julian Richards about why the proposed short tunnel plan for the Stonehenge landscape is such a terrible idea. See the full version for more details.
(click either for full screen versions)
Monday, 13 February 2017
The Sun on Sunday 12/2/2016 picked up on an FOI request I had made as a friend of mine who worked at the centre has recently gone on Maternity Leave and I was in a position to ask questions she felt might compromise her position.
As we enter a restaurant we can be reassured of the hygiene of the kitchen by the Food Agency’s public star ratings. But what about the water that is used for cooking, making drinks and served to drink? For the vast majority of premises this is not a problem as we can rely on the public water supply. But out in the countryside many large estates and their visitor centres as well as small remote homes use their own private water supply. There are strict rules on the testing of the water by the local authority but the results are not readily available to the staff and customers.
As an example the New Visitor Centre near Stonehenge has been open for just over three years and uses a private borehole to supply all its water. Shortly after its opening Wiltshire Council condemned the design and implementation of the borehole as being at “High Risk” of becoming contaminated.
"There are a number of areas where the supply system does not meet the guidelines set by the Drinking Water Inspectorate ie. chamber cover is not lockable, chamber walls do not extend 150mm above the surrounding ground height. no barrier to divert surface flows away from the chamber, no protective fence. These deficiencies lead to the risk rating of 'High Risk'. We strongly recommend that you take steps to address these matters."
With a licenced extraction of 35m2 a day the local authority should now, under The Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016, be testing the water at least twice a year for fifteen parameters. But even though four million visitors have used the facility in that time an FOI request reveals that the council only have one test on record from 2014 and that is just for nitrates, which show a worrying 46.9 mg/l where the legal limit is 50mg/l. Worrying because nitrate levels vary with the season.
The detailed examination of the geology under the Stonehenge World Heritage Site for the tunnel plans has revealed that there are bands of radon containing phosphatic chalk underground. Is the water at the visitor centre being drawn from one of them? We, the general public, don’t know. The borehole is adjacent to the coach park, has there been contamination from surface waters? We don’t know. Are the nitrate levels safe this year for bottle-fed infants? We just don’t know. We should so we can make informed choices when we visit or work in premises supplied by private water supplies. The test results should be made public and displayed on the premises.
The Council warning and test results are at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/private_water_supply_quality_at
There is no correspondence showing whether the risk concerns have been addressed.
The Private Water Supply regulation and testing requirements are at http://www.dwi.gov.uk/private-water-supply/regs-guidance/Guidance/info-notes/england/reg-9.pdf and http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/618/schedule/2/made
Advice on nitrates is in: http://www.dwi.gov.uk/stakeholders/guidance-and-codes-of-practice/pws-nitrates.pdf
The radon problem is detailed in http://www.tunneltalk.com/UK-21Nov2014-Stonehenge-TBM-bored-road-traffic-tunnel-revived.php
The private water supply is detailed in a planning document https://goo.gl/ZYXMmB
Potable water for the site is taken from an existing bore hole. There is currently an abstraction licence in place with the Environment Agency, licence number SW/043/0021/003: for the period 17th May2013 to 17 May 2025, which confirms the agreed maximum abstraction rates as being: 3m3 per hour, 35m3 per day, 2,837m3/year with a maximum continuous extraction rate of 2l/s. Following a period of monitoring of the operational site, a revised application for a small increase in peak requirements is currently awaiting approval, the application being submitted November 2015.
"There is no mains water or sewerage so the site utilises local groundwater for drinking water, washing water and temperature control while also being a receptor for treated sewage effluent. Any exceedances of the permit and licence limits have potential to cause environmental harm and would be a breach of environmental legislation. We note a proposed increase in visitor numbers. This will require a variation to the existing Permits (abstraction and discharge). These permit variations need to be secured, and process plant and any associated environment management scheme shown to be fully operational, before any planning condition relating to this activity is discharged. This is given the background of poor permit compliance at the site during and following the original site commissioning during 2014/15" -: Environment Agency
"The proposal contains information (Appendix D) on surface water and foul water drainage which has the potential to detrimentally affect groundwater. An increase in visitor numbers and toilet facilities is proposed, which could affect compliance with existing Environmental Permits and authorisations (sewage effluent discharge EPR/DB 3593NA, ground water heating discharge EPR/YP3926GR and abstractions for potable water and groundwater heating and cooling SW/043/0021/003). In addition there is an increased pollution risk from oil spills or leaks from the proposed enlarged parking area."
Saturday, 28 January 2017
The junction is directly on the solstice alignment as identified by UNESCO (http://www2.astronomicalheritage.net/index.php/gallery/entities/stonehenge-world-heritage-site-united-kingdom), an alignment they recommend is kept free of any building. (Map below)
The position of the junction is at the same height as Stonehenge. The OS benchmark on Stone 16 is 103m above sea level, the A360 at this point is between 100 and 105m. Normanton Gorse ridge which is intended to shield the view is 111m. Clive Ruggles has published photographs of Stonehenge taken from a position taken 100m south of the proposed junction. http://www2.cliveruggles.com/index.php/image-coll/category/40-stonehenge-mwss which show its intervisibility.
The junction is planned to involve a flyover which would raise it above the visible horizon.
The new dual carriageway runs in the direction of the solstice alignment, head lights would be pointing directly at Stonehenge so even without any road lighting the light pollution would be unacceptable.
Friday, 27 January 2017
Thursday, 26 January 2017
Our present is intrinsically bound up with our past, our sense of identity shaped and moulded by the cultural legacies of our forebears. That’s why organisations such as UNESCO exist to protect the cultural heritage of the world for current and future generations.
Recent years have all too clearly shown the need for that protection, with wars in the Middle East leading to the destruction or looting of many ancient monuments, while others are lost to natural disasters, cultural vandalism and iconoclasm or neglect. What can we do to prevent the loss of precious cultural heritage in the future?
One way of preserving ancient monuments at least in a sense is to safeguard heritage using digital means such as laser scanning to create 3D models. But sometimes these efforts come too late for heritage sites – as with the iconic Drummond’s Mill in Bradford, ravaged by fire this year, or the deliberate destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.
While this approach often requires specialist imaging equipment, another approach is to use something that we already have in abundance: the effort, curiosity and holiday photographs of millions of travellers worldwide. Curious Travellers is a project launched by researchers from the universities of Bradford, St Andrews, Nottingham Ningbo China and Birmingham, alongside international heritage consultancy MOSPA, that aims to preserve a record of sites and monuments in 3D digital form, built not from specialist scans but from compilations of tourist snaps.
Have you visited ancient sites and monuments? Do you have photographs of sites that are now at risk – or even those that have since been damaged or destroyed? The crowdsourcing project takes tourist photos and videos and combines them with other freely available resources scraped from websites such as travel blogs and social media sources in order to create 3D models of ancient monuments and sites. The reconstructed content is placed in context using relevant survey data that describes the site and landscape.
A community response to threatened sites
There’s more to this project than simply preserving tourist sights for those that haven’t seen them. Cultural heritage plays a key part in the quality of our lives, building our sense of identity, proving a rallying point around which we build social cohesion and pride in a shared heritage. Many sites also provide leisure opportunities, particularly for families, and provide an economic boost from tourism that can be particularly important for developing nations.
Global travellers are encouraged to get involved by donating images to Curious Travellers, a truly worldwide response to the threat of disappearing heritage and an opportunity to play a part in preserving it. The project will hopefully shape a fresh approach to recording sites and monuments, with travellers in future encouraged to photograph more obscure viewpoints at sites they visit. There have already been significant donations of images since launching at the British Science Festival in September – with some of the first 3D models soon to join examples on the project website.
Initially the project will highlight threatened or damaged heritage sites in North Africa, including Cyrene in northeastern Libya near present day Shahhat, as well as those in Syria and the Middle East where as many Islamic sites have been damaged and destroyed as pre-Islamic sites that have often received most media attention. However, the project is accepting images of any threatened historic site around the world. Previous archaeological surveys and 3D scanning efforts at sites such as Cyrene are being added to the project through a framework that can be augmented by additional crowd-sourced imagery.
Creating 3D digital models of sites alone is not a sufficiently strong argument for the project, but by putting them in context within their site and landscape setting we can continue to learn from them and use them to help inform site management and conservation. By linking these 3D models with geospatial data and other historic records within a historic environment record framework creates a meaningful legacy that can be used for education, future planning and development control.
Aspirations to rebuild cities from the tatters of war-torn countries are emerging – architects are imagining ways to rebuild them and using architecture to heal deep rifts in the countries’ social fabric.
Technically, a digital model can be used to 3D-print, or CNC-mill a physical recreation. This isn’t feasible at a site or landscape scale, but viewing 3D digital models in context may serve an important purpose in highlighting and campaigning for the protection and repair of damaged and threatened areas.
A recent talk by Jeanine Abdul Massih presented at the World Archaeology Congress in Kyoto highlighted how important it is that the profile of threatened heritage sites is kept high to ensure they don’t suffer as cities are rebuilt. For example in Lebanon where international funding has flooded in to rebuild its cities, heritage sites face an uncertain future in the face of development pressure and soaring land prices. Without continued protection, the risk is that rebuilding during peacetime can be as damaging as the destruction during war.
Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Stone 10 on the ground plans is slightly out of true with the circle, but the stone twists as it goes up and the top is exactly in line with the circle, one of my favourite demonstrations of the clever engineering that went into building Stonehenge.
Click to enlarge - Thanks to J for the photos.