No decision on A303 Stonehenge project until JULY

No decision on A303 Stonehenge project until JULY

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 1:14pm 29th April 2020.

3 minute read

The Government's confirmed that the deadline for an outcome on the scheme has been delayed.

We were due to be getting a final decision on the plans for a 2 mile long tunnel from the Transport Secretary this month.

But that's now been pushed back to the summer, to 'enable further work to be carried out before the application is determined by the Secretary of State'.

The new deadline is Friday 17th July.

A303 past Stonehenge with traffic
The A303 running past Stonehenge has been a hotly contested subject for decades

Wiltshire Council has already come out in favour of the plans, saying the 'improvements' for the trunk road would 'reduce traffic intrusion to the ancient monument, boost the local economy, address congestion and put an end to rat runs through local villages'. 

The Planning Inspectorate, which has been examining the project over the last year hasn't revealed what their recommendation is - but will disclose it once the final decision is made.

WHAT'S ACTUALLY PLANNED? 

The A303 tunnel project, put forward by Highways England, would see work carried out along the road between the Countess Roundabout at Amesbury and the Berwick Down area.

The plans include (in order if travelling westbound): 

  • A flyover for the Countess roundabout
  • A 2 mile (3.3 kilometre) tunnel at Stonehenge, widening the road to a dual carriageway and shielding the road from view at the stone circle
  • Green bridges over the A303 to give better public access to the land around the World Heritage Site
  • Longbarrow roundabout moved slightly, with traffic lights put in place
  • A bypass for Winterbourne Stoke, putting the road on a viaduct over the Till Valley
A303 Stonehenge - Western tunnel portal
An artists' impression of what the tunnel opening could look like

The plans have faced opposition throughout the process though, including from the Stonehenge Alliance.

That's a group that brings together organisations like the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth and the British Archaeological Trust amongst others.

They posted on social media on the original decision deadline, saying they're keen to hear an outcome: 

The Alliance handed a petition to the Government earlier this year, with 60,000 signatures gathered against the project, due to the damage it could cause to the World Heritage Site and potentially historically important land.

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