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Demonstrators protest tunnel plans near Stonehenge

Demonstrators protest tunnel plans near Stonehenge
Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument near Amesbury, Britain, is shown. File Photo by Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE

Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Demonstrators protested Saturday at Britain's Stonehenge monument against government plans to dig a tunnel underneath the world heritage site.

More than 100 people participated in the protest in Wiltshire, including residents, ecologists, land justice and climate activists, and pagans.

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Protesters used drumming, singing and speeches to draw attention to their concerns over the damage they say the 2-mile tunnel project will cause.

"Stonehenge is a revered place of our ancestors from a time that worshipped nature and is now awakening the spirit of the people to rise, calling us to act to defend our planet for its survival," protester Indra Donfrancesco told The Guardian.

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After protesters arrived at the UNESCO world heritage site, English Heritage, a charity that manages historic monuments, closed the site to the public, but it's expected to reopen on Sunday, LBC reported.

"Due to unforeseen circumstances Stonehenge is closed for the rest of the day," Stonehenge tweeted.

"It is an offense under the Ancient Monuments Act (1979) for people to enter the monument area without English Heritage's permission," an English Heritage spokeswoman said. 'Whilst we respect people's right to demonstrate peacefully, we do not condone behavior that disrupts and endangers the site and the people who visit or work here."

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps approved the tunnel project last month, which includes 8 miles of extended dual carriageway along A303 in Wiltshire.

Highways England argues the tunnel will reduce traffic and remove sound of traffic passing the site.

The Planning Inspectorate found that there would be "permanent, irreversible harm" to the site, and recommended the plan be rejected.

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But Shapps found damage to the site would not be substantial and the public benefit outweighs it.

Protesters included supporters of the Stonehenge Alliance, which set up campaign group Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site. The SSWHS has launched a legal action to challenge Shapp's decision.

Stonehenge features a unique stone circle erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 B.C., according to English Heritage.

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