Victory: Controversial Stonehenge tunnel ruled ‘unlawful’

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By Annabelle Sanderson
31st July 2021

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Stonehenge from the threat of a massive Government backed road expansion scheme which could have damaged the World Heritage Site are celebrating after a court ruled the proposals ‘unlawful’.

Government plans to build a huge four lane tunnel through the World Heritage Site were struck a significant blow by the ruling Friday in which Mr Justice Holgate ruled that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps acted irrationally and unlawfully when he approved the project.

The £1.7bn scheme to overhaul eight miles of the A303 in Wiltshire next to the prehistoric monument was backed by the government last year, but following a judicial review by campaigners, the decision has been ruled ‘unlawful’.

The news has been welcomed by CPRE Wiltshire – part of the Stonehenge Alliance – who have called for the department to “learn from this ruling and look at long term sustainable alternatives to road expansion to the South West.”
Chair of CPRE Wiltshire Anne Henshaw said she was “delighted” by the “David and Goliath style victory by campaigners who have fought tirelessly to protect a World Heritage Site from the destruction of bulldozers and concrete.”

“The Department of Transport has said it is disappointed by the ruling. But perhaps instead of looking at what it has lost it should look for the opportunities to come up with sustainable and climate friendly ways to meet the long distance needs of the South West, such as an improved railway corridor.

“We should have no more talk of increasing road capacity at the cost of a dramatic and world famous heritage,” she added.

The court found that Shapps did not properly consider alternative schemes, as the law requires him to do, and that the decision-making process included no evidence of the impact on each individual asset at the world-famous historic site.

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