Despite a great deal of opposition from the Stonehenge Alliance and other conservation groups, druids and archaeologists, the government has given the go ahead for the Stonehenge Tunnel scheme.
On Thursday November 12, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, overruled the recommendations of planning inspectors to allow the £1.7bn road tunnel under Stonehenge on the A303 to go ahead.
The Stonehenge Alliance commented, “The decision potentially breaches the UK’s international treaty obligation (World Heritage Convention) not to damage the World Heritage Site and will undermine the UK’s legal commitment to address Climate Change.
It will send shock waves around the world, not least because the independent Examining Authority recommended it be refused permission. The decision also goes against the advice of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee and many experienced archaeologists.”
However, English Heritage welcomed the decision “as a landmark day for Stonehenge and one which finally makes good on a decades-long aspiration to do justice to the ancient stones and the prehistoric landscape in which they stand.
We will continue to work closely with heritage partners, Highways England and Wiltshire Council to ensure that the final road scheme is the best outcome for this extraordinary place.”
Tom Holland, Stonehenge Alliance President, who launched the petition opposing the scheme and which collected nearly 150,000 signatures expressed his horror: “This is a shocking and shameful decision. A supposedly Conservative government, advised by the Planning Inspectorate to cancel the scheme, has decided instead – at a time when COVID has already blown its budgeting to pieces – to proceed with a £2 billion white elephant.
The decision to inject a great gash of concrete and tarmac into Britain’s most precious prehistoric landscape is one that ranks simultaneously as spendthrift and sacrilegious. We shall continue to oppose it as vigorously as we can.”
The Alliance is taking legal advice and will carefully consider its next steps.