Campaigners set for legal challenge against Stonehenge tunnel on A303

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site has taken the first steps towards a legal challenge of the Government’s approval of the dual carriageway.

Campaigners are planning to launch a fresh legal challenge against plans to build a tunnel for a dual carriageway near Stonehenge.

Campaign group Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site says it written to the government to outline its concerns about the A303 tunnel near the site in Wiltshire.

Plans for a road tunnel near the popular attraction were given the go-ahead earlier this month.

It followed a long-running battle against the scheme which included opposition from UNESCO.

Planning permission was first granted in 2020 but the project was stopped by the High Court in 2021 following a campaign.

Planning Inspectorate officials advised it would cause "permanent, irreversible harm" to Stonehenge.

Highways England says the tunnel will reduce traffic and cut journey times.

The Department for Transport approved the £1.7 billion tunnel, which will run from Amesbury to Berwick Down, on 14 July.

But the director of the campaign group against it, Chris Todd, has accused the government of "sticking two fingers up" at UNESCO and "all those who care about British heritage".

"It has basically approved this highly flawed and damaging proposal for a second time," he added. "The same scheme that was thrown out in 2021.

"We believe there are strong grounds why this approval should also be struck down. We will do everything within our power to safeguard this most iconic of sites for future generations," Chris said.

An illustration of where the tunnel will be built under the World Heritage Site, further away from the Stonehenge monument Credit: National Highways

Stonehenge Alliance is a separate organisation which has been campaigning to safeguard the Stonehenge site for more than 20 years.

One of its members, Suzanne Keene, said: "Stonehenge is much more than the stones at its centre."

She added: "It is a complex and hugely rich archaeological landscape without comparison. For the Government to be so dismissive of the huge damage that National Highways scheme will cause is deeply worrying.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "We have granted a Development Consent Order for the A303 Stonehenge road scheme. The decision letter sets out in full the reasons why it has been concluded that on balance the benefits of the scheme outweigh the harm."

At the time the plans were approved, the Department for Transport said Transport Secretary and Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper is “satisfied” that the project’s “harm on spatial, visual relations and settings is less than substantial and should be weighed against the public benefits”.