Arrive by public transport this Summer Solstice
National Trust press release:
The National Trust is advising people wishing to come to Avebury for Summer Solstice this year to arrive by public transport. In order to comply with an Enforcement Notice served on the Trust by Kennet District Council, the Trust regrets that it will be unable to open its Avebury visitor car park for Summer Solstice this year as an overnight site for campervans, motorhomes or caravans.
The Enforcement Notice, which came into force on 1 January this year, obliges the Trust to stop tolerating the occupation of the car park for overnight stays at pagan observances. In order to comply with the enforcement notice the Trust has had no choice but to apply for planning permission to install a height barrier at the car park, which will prevent the entrance of caravans and motorhomes, which are specifically cited in the Enforcement Notice.
The height barrier will prevent all high-sided vehicles from entering the car park, irrespective of their use, as the Trust cannot and would not discriminate against one group of people at one particular time of year.
Brendan McCarthy, Regional Director for the National Trust commented: "While we deeply regret having to take this decision, it is the only way that we can comply with the terms of the notice. Unfortunately, there is no suitable alternative site for overnight camping this year, so we are advising people not to travel to Avebury with camper vans, motorhomes or caravans for this solstice and, due to the limited nature of car parking, to consider coming on public transport."
"We are committed to ensuring access to Avebury for those who wish to worship at Solstice and other important times of year. We are endeavouring to remedy the camping and parking facilities for future years."
There will be a very limited number of car parking spaces available at a charge (for vehicles under 2.1 m high) on the evening of Solstice itself, Wednesday 20 June. There will be no additional car parking for people arriving in the days before and after Solstice evening itself.
For the past ten years, until January 2007, the Trust, with the knowledge of the local planning authority, has allowed the pagan community to park their motorhomes and vans in the car park at pagan observances to alleviate the potential knock on effect of camping elsewhere in the village or within the World Heritage Site.
The National Trust is still working towards a medium-term solution to parking and camping at Avebury. The National Trust has presented its options appraisal, which includes nine potential sites identified by the Trust, to Kennet District Council with regard to the future of car parking and overnight stays during pagan observances at Avebury. The appraisal will form the basis of an ongoing consultation process with stakeholders on how best to work towards a consensual and sustainable solution to these twin issues.
Any solution needs to balance the interests of Avebury's disparate groups as well as protect the archaeology of the World Heritage Site, minimise disruption to the village, ensure access for worship for the pagan community and conform with police concerns over traffic flows.
In the long term, the National Trust remains committed to removing vehicles from within the World Heritage Site.
Update from the Western Daily Press:
'WARLIKE PAGANS' UP IN ARMS AT CAR CRACKDOWN
The National Trust has called on solstice-goers to stay away from the West's biggest stone circle this summer because of an ongoing row with council chiefs.But the new stance at Avebury in Wiltshire has sparked anger among "radical" pagan groups, and some have warned trouble could be in store for this June's event.
National Trust chiefs say they have to abide by tough new planning regulations from council chiefs which effectively end the free-for-all in the village at solstice time.
For years local residents have complained of disruption, all-night parties, noise, anti-social behaviour, traffic and parking problems in the days either side of the important midsummer festival.
And, even though Stonehenge has been opened for the solstice night for more than five years, the popularity of Avebury has mushroomed in recent years.
Village opposition and council action has focused on the National Trust-owned car park on the edge of the village, which becomes an unofficial campsite and traveller camp for a week around the solstice. The trust has been forced to ban campervans and will probably have to ban tents too. Those new rules, and tough police action over parking, mean that it will be difficult for people to park anywhere in Avebury. So yesterday, they sent out a stark message for the first time - go by bus or do not go at all.
Trust regional director Brendan McCarthy said: "We know we can't put a fence around Avebury or restrict access to it, but clearly the current situation can't continue.
He said: "There are bound to be people who will come regardless, but we want the message to go out there that this car park fills up quickly, they won't be able to stay here or park anywhere else.
"Our hands are tied by the council's actions but we recognise the knock-on effect the solstice has on the residents here. The simple message is we'd rather thousands of people didn't come but if they do they should come by bus," he added.
Druid Terry Dobney, Avebury's keeper of the stones, said radical pagans were far from happy with the move.
He said: "People decide to come for the solstice often at the last minute and I feel sorry for the spontaneous people who will find it very difficult."
Resident and district councillor Gretchen Rawlings said: "Everyone is very concerned about what will happen at solstice time and I don't know what the solution is. Nothing will stop people coming and it has to be properly managed."
All sides in the dispute are now working on setting up a park-and-ride scheme for the event, and investigating a long-term solution for the years to come.
Posted by baza
25th April 2007ce
Edited 28th April 2007ce