The Government has given the go-ahead for the Stonehenge Tunnel Project.
The Secretary of State for Transport has approved plans for the A303 near the world heritage site.
For decades the debate has gone on about what to do with the busy road that runs alongside the stone monument.
Grant Shapps, has now approved the plans to bury the road giving Stonehenge a traffic-free landscape.
Nicola Tasker, Stonehenge Director, English Heritage welcomes the news:
It makes good on the decades-long ambition to remove this noisy and polluting road from this very important prehistoric landscape”
John Glen, MP for Salisbury, has Tweeted his delight at the decision:
After many years of meetings and much hard work and lobbying from local residents, I am absolutely delighted today that the A303 Stonehenge project has received the green light from the Transport Secretary. (1/5) https://t.co/IqGSPNcbf3
— John Glen MP (@JohnGlenUK) November 12, 2020
Highways England expect the scheme to deliver a high-quality route between the South East and South West that meets the future needs of traffic. For it to enable economic growth in the area with jobs and housing and to help conserve and enhance the World Heritage site.
In total, the improvement works will run from Solstice Park to the Berwick downs as you approach Yarnbury Castle. Including a flyover at Countess Roundabout, the tunnelled section past Stonehenge and a By-pass around Winterbourne Stoke.
The Planning Inspectorate had recommended Transport Secretary Grant Shapps withhold consent, warning it would cause “permanent, irreversible harm” to the World Heritage site.
But the Department for Transport wrote to Highways England stating: “The Secretary of State is satisfied that, on balance, the need case for the development together with the other benefits identified outweigh any harm.”
The Planning Inspectorate’s Chief Executive, Sarah Richards said:
“There has been a great deal of public interest in this project. A major priority for us over the course of the examination was to ensure that communities who might be affected by this proposal had the opportunity to put forward their views. As always, the Examining Authority gave careful consideration to these before reaching its conclusion.”
The decision by the Secretary of State for Transport, the recommendation made by the Examining Authority to the Secretary of State and the evidence considered by the Examining Authority in reaching its recommendation is publicly available on the National Infrastructure Planning website.
Andy Rhind-Tutt, the former mayor of Amesbury and president of Salisbury Chamber of Commerce, said:
“Granting permission to desecrate one of the most significant landscapes in the world for no transport gain, and in doing so denying future generations the opportunity to explore this vast undisturbed site, let alone placing significant hydrogeological changes to the aquifers that feed the River Avon, is utterly mind-blowing.”
No confirmation has been given yet as to when work will begin.