The Stonehenge Alliance Campaign Group Launch Legal Challenge over Stonehenge Road Tunnel.

30 11 2020

A campaign group is planning a legal challenge over the transport secretary’s decision to approve a £1.7bn tunnel near Stonehenge.

Historic England and the National Trust argue that diverting the road underground will enhance the site. Druids, green campaigners and archaeologists have opposed the plans.

The campaign group Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) has commissioned the law firm Leigh Day and barristers Victoria Hutton and David Wolfe QC to investigate the lawfulness of the decision.

The group said the plan to dig a two-mile (3.2km) tunnel alongside the A303 near the Unesco world heritage site was “wasteful and destructive”.

The BBC has approached the Department for Transport (DfT) for a comment.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps approved the project earlier this month against the recommendations of planning officials.

The Planning Inspectorate had recommended Mr Shapps withhold consent, but the DfT said that the benefits of the scheme outweighed the potential harm.

Unesco previously said the scheme would have an “adverse impact” on the surrounding landscape.

Campaigners are worried that the work will have a detrimental impact on the wider Stonehenge world heritage site – which the tunnel would go through.

Tom Holland, from the Stonehenge Alliance, said he was “stunned” that the government had decided to approve the plans.

Stonehenge Alliance is supporting the CrowdJustice appeal.

He said: “I fully back the move to test whether Grants Shapps acted legally in approving this highly wasteful and destructive road scheme.

“The government has ignored advice from both Unesco and the independent panel who presided over a six-month examination.”

Mr Holland added: “I urge everyone who cares about the Stonehenge world heritage site to support this legal action.

“There is still a chance to stop the bulldozers moving in and vandalising our most precious and iconic prehistoric landscape.”

Highways England and English Heritage support the scheme, which is expected to begin in 2023 and take five years to complete.

SSWHS, a new organisation set up by supporters of the Stonehenge Alliance, has begun a fundraising campaign to pay for the legal action. In its letter to Shapps, the organisation said the proposals were in breach of Unesco’s world heritage convention.

RELEVANT STONEHENGE NEWS:
Stonehenge tunnel: Legal challenge to ‘destructive’ plans. BBC NEWS
The Stonehenge Tunnel Debate – the good, the bad, and the ugly. STONEHENHGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge tunnel faces legal challenge as campaigners say minister wrongly overruled expert advice. THE TELEGRAPH
Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site. CROWDJUSTICE
Campaigners launch legal challenge over Stonehenge road tunnel. THE GUARDIAN
Stonehenge tunnel: Legal challenge to destructive plans. INSIGHT NEWS REPORT

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