Stonehenge tunnel plan gets go-ahead from Grant Shapps

Stonehenge Credit: PA Images

A controversial plan to dig a road tunnel near Stonehenge has been given the go-ahead by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The decision was announced by transport minister Andrew Stephenson in a written statement to the Commons.

The A303, which is a popular route for motorists travelling to and from the West Country, is often severely congested on the single carriageway stretch near the stones in Wiltshire.

Environmentalists and archaeologists have voiced their opposition to the tunnel plan Credit: Adam Davy/PA

Highways England says its plan for a two-mile tunnel will remove the sight and sound of traffic passing the site and cut journey times.

But some environmentalists and archaeologists have voiced their opposition to the plan due to its potential impact on the area.

In June it emerged that a team of archaeologists had discovered a ring of at least 20 large shafts within the World Heritage Site, a short distance from the stones.

The lead archaeologist, Professor David Jacques, says the decision was "gut-wrenching". He says, "The tunnel is going to clearly compromise the archaeology. Whose interest is that in? It makes no sense".

"It's not just about Stonehenge, it's not just about Britain, it's an international scandal."

The latest archaeological finds are “well outside the scheme boundary” and no closer than 500 metres from the planned road upgrade, according to Highways England.