Campaigners lose High Court bid to stop Stonehenge tunnel

20 February 2024

Campaigners have lost a High Court challenge against the proposed Stonehenge road tunnel.

It is the second judicial review brought by Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS).

National Highways was initially granted consent in 2020 but the campaigners blocked the project after the High Court quashed the scheme in July 2021. The court found the Secretary of State for Transport had failed to take into account the scheme’s impact on the significance of all heritage assets and failed to consider the merits of two alternatives, which would either cover the cutting or extend the tunnel to the west.  

In July last year, transport secretary Mark Harper approved it again when he granted a Development Consent Order for the 12.9km of new dual carriageway, which includes a 3.3km tunnel under Stonehenge. The scheme aims to relieve the notorious congestion on the single carriageway section of the A303 as it passes the ancient stones, and improve journey times and reliability between the M3 and M5 motorways.

In a judgement published yesterday after a three-day hearing, Mr Justice Holgate dismissed SSHWS’s latest bid, finding “all grounds of [the] challenge unarguable”.

SSHWS said in a statement that it intends to appeal the decision.

“This is a devastating loss, not just for everyone who has campaigned against the government’s pig-headed plans for the Stonehenge landscape, but for Britain, for the world, and for subsequent generations,” said Tom Holland, historian and president of the Stonehenge Alliance.

MORE joint venture, comprising FCC Construcción, Webuild and BeMo Tunnelling, has been selected as the main contractor for the £1.25bn project and signed the contract in October 2022.