Stonehenge scheme to be challenged in High Court

18 February 2021

A High Court hearing granted recently to protestors will now allow scrutiny of the UK Department of Transport decision to approve the Stonehenge road tunnel and dual carriageway.

With the proposed tunnel portals and deep cuttings set into the landscape, the Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) thinks the £1.7bn (US$2.4bn) scheme will have a detrimental impact on the ancient site and wants a judicial review of the project, reported the BBC. The hearing, likely to take place in the week commencing 22 February 2021, will determine whether a review should be granted.

Approval of the scheme in November 2020 by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was made against the recommendations of planning officials on the grounds that the development “outweighed any harm” that might be caused. His decision was backed by Wiltshire Council, which saw the proposed tunnel as a solution to a “horrendous” traffic problem in nearby villages.

SSWHS said the two-mile (3.2km) tunnel on the A303 will cause “significant harm” to the area. Its president Tom Holland said: “We have always believed that the government's intention to build a great gash of concrete and tarmac through the World Heritage Site is a dereliction of its responsibilities, and we are delighted that there will now be the opportunity to test this conviction in a court of law.” Holland urged Shapps to review his decision and to “conserve rather than vandalise” a precious pre-historic landscape.

Work on the tunnel is scheduled to begin in 2023 and take five years to complete.