Kate Freeman

27 years on, still protecting Stonehenge

As others have come and gone, Kate Freeman is still battling road-building at the iconic Stonehenge site in Wiltshire
Celeste Hicks
By Celeste Hicks    |      Published:  19 Jun 2018    |      2 minute read

Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Credit: istock

When plans to build a road tunnel under the prehistoric site at Stonehenge were announced in 2013, Kate Freeman felt she was having a Groundhog Day.

More than 20 years previously, she'd campaigned tirelessly to protect the UNESCO World Heritage Site from another road-building scheme.

Back then she had 4 young children. "My youngest son is now 27 years, my hair has turned grey, and I'm still campaigning on this issue," she says.

The new proposals involve a 3 km long tunnel on the A303, which runs past Stonehenge. Congestion on this road has become a political football. Supporters of the plans say it will restore tranquility to part of the site. Friends of the Earth objects.

Stonehenge Alliance campaigners at spring equinox 2015
Stonehenge Alliance campaigners at spring equinox 2015
Credit: Mike Birkin

We agree with Kate, a former local group co-ordinator turned transport planner. Building and improving roads only leads to an increase in traffic.

“The figures suggest that traffic levels have plateaued since 2004, but the knee-jerk political response is to widen the road,” says Kate. “But you cannot build your way out of congestion. We need to decrease traffic, not provide for it."

Kate has played a major role representing Friends of the Earth in the Stonehenge Alliance. This is an umbrella organisation of groups fighting to defend the prehistoric landscape. She's mastered social media and found new online supporters, across the UK and around the world.

Kate has brought together historians, archaeologists, artists, writers, pagans, academics, architects, planners and naturalists who all have a profound interest in protecting Stonehenge.

It really is time to put a lid on this. You don't just drive a road through a World Heritage Site willy-nillyKate Freeman

Kate's remarkable stamina was recognised recently when she was nominated as Exceptional Campaigner in the 2018 Friends of the Earth Earthmovers awards. The awards are supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery.

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