Page last updated at 10:16 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 11:16 UK

Stonehenge road closure proposal

Stonehenge is a protected World Heritage Site

A road which runs alongside Stonehenge could be closed under proposals drawn up to protect the site's future.

Shutting the A344 where it runs next to the stones, in Wiltshire, is one of the plans being considered to protect the landmark's World Heritage Site status.

It comes after a 540m tunnel scheme for a 1.3mile (2.1km) section of the A303 was scrapped due to high costs.

A decision on the proposed closure will be made by the end of the year following a three-month consultation.

People are also being asked to have their say on whether the Stonehenge visitor centre should be redeveloped or moved.

Four possible new sites have been suggested.

It is inconceivable that the inadequacies of the site should be allowed to continue any longer

Lord Bruce-Lockhart, English Heritage

The Government and English Heritage, which have drawn up the proposals, believe closing the A344 at its junction with the A303 would allow the site to return to grassland, improving the environment around Stonehenge.

Lord Bruce-Lockhart, chairman of English Heritage, said: "Stonehenge is the greatest achievement of prehistoric culture anywhere in Europe.

"It is inconceivable that the inadequacies of the site should be allowed to continue any longer.

"With political will and financial commitment I believe the Government can achieve a breakthrough this time."

Margaret Hodge, culture minister, said: "Stonehenge is one of the UK's most recognisable landmarks and it's important that we preserve it so that future generations can enjoy its mystery."

Ms Hodge added that the consultation would give "everyone the opportunity to have their say about the future of one of the world's most important sites".

It is also hoped that an improved visitor centre will be in place by 2012.

Exhibitions of the plans will be on show throughout July at sites in Wiltshire and London.

Public say in Stonehenge future
01 Jul 08 |  Wiltshire
Unlocking Stonehenge's secrets
31 Mar 08 |  Science/Nature
Stonehenge tunnel plans scrapped
06 Dec 07 |  Wiltshire
Stonehenge tunnel to be scrapped
20 Nov 07 |  Wiltshire

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