Valuing Cultural Heritage – a Willingness to Pay Study for Removing a Road Within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site
Jawed Khan, Department for Transport, Charlie Colborn, Highways England, Ricky Lawton, Simetrica
Highways England in association with UK Department for Transport commissioned a bespoke and innovative study to understand the value that residents place on the removal of the A303 from its current location within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site
Stonehenge is a Neolithic structure which has brought in visitors from far and near, creating awe and wonder through the ages. Today, along with Avebury, it forms the heart of a World Heritage Site (WHS) covering 26 km2 across Wiltshire in Southern England. The Stonehenge WHS encompasses one of the richest concentrations of prehistoric archaeological monuments, with roots dating back to around 8000BC and the stones formation to 2500BC, making it one of the most impressive prehistoric megalithic monuments in the world.
The site currently suffers considerable intrusion in the form of the A303 road, which passes within 165 metres of the famous stone circle and cuts through notable features of the WHS.
The UK Government has committed to a major road project to improve the A303 road between Amesbury and Berwick Down as part of Road Investment Strategy to increase connectivity to the south-west of England, while reducing the impact of the road on the WHS.
The unique nature of this scheme presents a challenge to the valuation of potential benefits and the value added of the removal of the road from the WHS in relation to noise reduction, increased tranquillity, visual amenity and the reduced severance of the landscape in the WHS. Although current transport appraisal covers most of these impacts, they are only assessed qualitatively. The monetary value of these benefits including the improved quality of cultural heritage is rarely captured. Quantifying impacts of removal of the road from within part of the WHS is highly challenging and requires an innovative approach. Therefore, Highways England in association with UK Department for Transport commissioned a bespoke and innovative study to understand the value that UK residents place on the removal of the A303 from its current location within the Stonehenge WHS.
The study employed a contingent valuation approach to elicit a monetary value for removing the road from the WHS. Survey respondents were divided into three study groups: visitors, road users (who may enjoy the view of the stones from the road) and the general population. These groups were weighted by income, gender and age where appropriate. These surveys elicited Willingness to Pay (WTP) for those with positive values for removal of the road, and Willingness to Accept (WTA) compensation for those who would be negatively affected by removal of the road. WTP and WTA calculations were then used to derive the monetary value of the cultural heritage of A303 road options by aggregating the values to the relevant national population.
The presentation at ETC will describe the reasoning behind the study, the difficulties faced in valuing the benefits of cultural sites such as Stonehenge and the innovative research carried out to fully appreciate the benefits associated with cultural sites by road projects. It will also set out the methodology behind the study itself and will outline the results.
Association for European Transport