Stonehenge tunnel could face delay as campaigners take battle to court

Stonehenge tunnel could face delays as campaigners take battle for a judicial review to court

  • Campaigners are challenging the £1.7billion revamp of the A303 in Wiltshire, which they say could cause significant harm to the site
  • A High Court judge has granted a hearing to decide whether they will get a judicial review
  • Transport Secretary Grant Shapps approved the scheme in November against the recommendations of planning officials
  • He said the need for the development ‘outweighed any harm’ that might be caused

Protesters fighting against a road tunnel near Stonehenge will have their day in court.

The campaigners are challenging the £1.7billion revamp of the A303 in Wiltshire.

They say the eight-mile project, which includes a two-mile tunnel past Stonehenge, would cause significant harm to the site.

Now a High Court judge has granted a hearing to decide whether they will get a judicial review. A date is likely to be set next week.

Now a High Court judge has granted a hearing to decide whether the protesters campaigning against a new road tunnel near Stonehenge (pictured) will get a judicial review. A date is likely to be set next week [File photo]

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps approved the scheme in November against the recommendations of planning officials. He said the need for the development ‘outweighed any harm’ that might be caused.

If the court rules his decision was unlawful, the Department for Transport will have to rethink the project.

The Stonehenge site was declared by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) to be of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) in 1986. It is considered a ‘landscape without parallel’ owing to its remarkable complex of prehistoric monuments and sites.

Tom Holland, of campaign group Stonehenge Alliance, said: ‘This is very good news. We have always believed that the Government’s intention to build a great gash of concrete and tarmac through the World Heritage Site is a dereliction of its responsibilities, and we are delighted that there will now be the opportunity to test this conviction in a court of law.

‘We urge Grant Shapps to review his decision, and act to conserve rather than vandalise this most precious of prehistoric landscapes.’ 

Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith said: ‘There is clearly a huge level of public outrage against, what is in effect, an existential threat to one of the most treasured symbols of British history.

‘However, this legal case must proceed on points of procedural error. Today’s decision means that our client’s case and the Government’s decision-making process will now be fully scrutinised by the Courts.’ The Department for Transport was contacted for comment.

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