Wiltshire Council comes out IN FAVOUR of A303 Stonehenge scheme

Wiltshire Council comes out IN FAVOUR of A303 Stonehenge scheme

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 12:09pm 9th March 2020.

3 minute read

It's the first time the authority has declared their support for improvements to the road near Amesbury.

This comes just a couple of days before the Government's Budget (Wednesday 11th March).

Wiltshire Council's 'urging' the Chancellor to put money towards the project, that's expected to cost £1.9 billion in total.

They've given a few reasons for supporting the plans: 

  • Reducing intrusion of traffic on the ancient monument
  • Boosting the South West's economy
  • Addressing congestion on a busy road
  • Ending rat runs for local residents
A303 west Stonehenge - traffic jams queue - May 2016 (Mike Draper)
The A303 past Stonehenge has been a traffic hotspot for decades

Councillor Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: 

"We are calling on the government to issue a clear statement of intent to support this £1.9bn scheme and deliver a huge vote of confidence that will boost the whole south west.

"Councils throughout the region are united in supporting this vital scheme that has myriad benefits for both the ancient monument and the south west's economy.

"The scheme will improve the everyday lives of the local community, whose villages are used as rat runs, and it will also remove the single lane, bottleneck road, and create more reliable journeys for the thousands of vehicles that use the A303 as a gateway to the south west each day.

"Removing the noisy road from much of the World Heritage Site will help to restore the Stonehenge landscape and allow people to enjoy and understand the ancient stones and explore the surrounding countryside.

"The Stonehenge improvement scheme offers a golden opportunity for the government to invest in the south west’s transport network, unlocking the region’s potential and making a bold statement that the region is open for investment.”

Highways England A303 Stonehenge Tunnel February 2018 5 (Highways England)
CGI images released by Highways England show what the tunnel entrance could look like to drivers

'SCHEME COULD SAVE LIVES'

Local authorities, including Wiltshire Council, have also commissioned a report, validated by the Department for Transport, about the impact of the A303 improvements.

The main findings in that suggest that the project would: 

  • Create 21,400 jobs
  • Deliver a £39bn boost to the economy
  • Prevent 1,807 fatal or serious casualties
  • Reduce carbon emissions by 9%

WHAT HAPPENS NOW? 

A final decision on whether the A303 Stonehenge project should go ahead is due to come from the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps.

That's expected to be announced on, or before, April 2nd 2020.

OPPOSITION TO THE PLANS 

A 60,000 strong petition calling for the scheme to be scrapped has been handed over to the Government in the last couple of weeks. 

The Stonehenge Alliance, which is made up of groups like Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth and the British Archaeological Trust amongst others, gathered the signatures over five years.

They're against the idea due to the potential harm to the World Heritage Site and important archaeological landscapes.

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