TIME Team presenter Tony Robinson has criticised plans for a tunnel past Stonehenge as "old-fashioned" proposals that would only protect part of the ancient site.

Highways England is holding a public consultation on its plans for putting the A303 into a 1.8-mile (2.9km) dual carriageway tunnel where it passes the ancient stone circle to cut congestion and improve the surroundings.

The scheme is backed by English Heritage and the National Trust, who manage the area and believe it would make the setting of the stones more tranquil, give the public greater access to the wider prehistoric landscape and improve the environment for wildlife.

But opponents are concerned the plan, with a tunnel past the stones that would emerge within the World Heritage Site and a bypass to the north or south of nearby Winterbourne Stoke, would damage the wider archaeology and environment.

Speaking outside the Society of Antiquaries at Burlington House in London, where Highways England was holding an event as part of the public consultation, Robinson said: "I think the proposal we are being offered is a really old-fashioned one. It assumes what needs to be protected is that little clump of stones."

He said the stone circle was invaluable but, over the past 20 to 30 years, experts had begun to appreciate that the area around it was a complex network of henges, pathways, barrows and track-ways.

"As anyone who has watched Time Team will know, the context is all in archaeology," he said.

How prehistoric people approached Stonehenge, how they saw the site and how they moved through the landscape was significant, he said, adding: "That's a high-class Wiltshire Disneyland experience. Once it's gone, we'll never get that back.

"If you were going to protect Buckingham Palace, you wouldn't put a tunnel in halfway down the Mall. If you wanted to protected Wembley Stadium, you wouldn't put a tunnel halfway up Wembley Way."

He suggested a much longer tunnel that started before the World Heritage Site and came out the other side, although he acknowledged its 3.4-mile length would be much more expensive, or bypass ideas could be considered.

The Stonehenge Alliance, which was staging a protest outside the event, want the consultation to be scrapped and re-run because they believe the options on the table would inflict severe damage on the World Heritage Site.

Kate Fielden, of the Stonehenge Alliance, said: "We want a genuine consultation with real choice.

"Both of Highways England's options involve huge and damaging new roadworks gouged into our most important ancient landscape. Also, a seven-week consultation is far too short for this world-renowned site."

A spokesman for Highways England said: "We fully understand the cultural heritage of the site and one of the broad objectives of the scheme is to help conserve and enhance the World Heritage Site by removing the sight and sound of traffic and make it easier to reach and explore.

"We are working closely with key heritage organisations within the World Heritage Site to find the best solution possible."