Fresh doubts over Stonehenge tunnel

Fresh doubts over Stonehenge tunnel

Published by The Spire FM News Team at 6:52am 3rd July 2019. (Updated at 10:19am 3rd July 2019)

MP's say plans for the A303 scheme are at risk unless money for the project can be secured.

The House of Common's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have issued the warning as part of a report.

The group which scrutinises government spending says the scheme remains in doubt until a clear decision on how to fund it is made.

Public private finance was due to fund the scheme, but the government cancelled all future deals using that model last year.

Stonehenge
The proposed tunnel is part of a scheme to improve the landscape around Stonehenge.

The committee also accused the DfT and Highways England of failing to give a clear idea of the benefits of the scheme.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, who is deputy PAC chairman, said:

"Government plans to open the Stonehenge tunnel by 2026 remain in doubt until a clear decision is made on how to fund the £1.7 billion (excluding VAT) scheme.

"To meet the proposed timetable a funding decision is needed by the end of this year.

"Stonehenge is one of the world's greatest heritage sites. There is a pressing need for the Department for Transport and Highways England to set out exactly what benefits visitors and local people near the site can expect to see as a result of the scheme."

Stonehenge tunnel plans
Highways England vision of how the tunnel might look

A Department for Transport spokesman said:

"This Government is committed to investing in the South West and the A303 and A358 schemes are on track to be delivered to their respective timetables.

"Development work is continuing as planned."

The proposed upgrade of the A303 includes a two-mile long tunnel beneath the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

BUSINESS REACTION:

The Confederation of British Industry has been responding to the findings of the Public Accounts Committee.

CBI Regional Director, Deborah Fraser said: 

“You can only power up the South West’s economy if you deliver big projects like this.  The government must deliver on schemes like the Stonehenge tunnel to support the rebalancing of the UK economy.

“Our members are clear on the benefits of this scheme to help improve resilience, support rural prosperity, increase connectivity and boost business for the region as a whole.

“It is time the Government gave a long-term funding commitment to ensure this scheme is completed.”

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