Stonehenge road tunnel approved... again
By Mike Hayes18 July 2023
The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has approved plans to construct a road tunnel near the historic site of Stonehenge in England.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper has granted a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the project, which will be located on the A303, one of the major roads between the county of Devon and the capital London.
Previously, a DCO was issued for the €2 billion scheme, but it was quashed by the High Court in July 2021, due to concerns about its potential environmental impact on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The new plans involve a comprehensive overhaul of eight miles of the A303, including the construction of a 3.2km-long road tunnel.
Former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had given the project the green light in November 2020, despite objections from officials at the Planning Inspectorate who warned of “permanent, irreversible harm” to the area. However, the decision was challenged by the Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site alliance and overturned in the High Court.
In a 64-page letter granting fresh approval, the DfT stated that Transport Secretary Mark Harper is “satisfied” that the project’s negative effects on spatial, visual relations, and settings are “less than substantial” and should be weighed against the public benefits.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said, “The likelihood must be that objectors will already be poring over the Secretary of State’s lengthy and detailed decision letter looking for grounds on which to launch another legal challenge.”
He also highlighted the funding hurdle the project faces and the economic constraints on the DfT’s budget.