An archaeology chief has raised concerns over the Stonehenge tunnel proposal announced by the government last week
On Thursday (12 January) Ministers launched a public consultation for the plans for the 2.9 km dual carriageway tunnel, designed to ease congestion on the A303.
The AJ’s sister title Construction News reported that Arup and Atkins were picked as the design consultant for the scheme last January.
Highways England hopes to start construction of the tunnel – the latest version of a project that has been discussed by roads chiefs since the 1980s – by April 2020.
However, Council for British Archaeology director Mike Hayworth said many heritage organisations would still like to see a longer tunnel, as it is ’almost impossible’ to avoid damaging the area if the development took place as currently planned.
He said: ’Stonehenge sits within a very significant, internationally recognised prehistoric landscape.
’On the western end where the portal tunnel comes out … this is in quite a sensitive area where there are lots of barrows [prehistoric monuments]. I’d like to know exactly where that portal is.’
Historic England has commissioned historical work in this site over the past year which will give an account of the archaeological evidence in the area.
Stonehenge tunnel map
The tunnel project will eventually require a development consent order and approval by the transport secretary.
Hayworth said the disadvantages of the scheme needed to to be weighed against the advantages.
’There is no doubt that there is a significant advantage to removing the A303 from the surface of the world heritage site around Stonehenge and opening up the landscape.
‘But we need to weigh that up against the damage that that will be done against the world heritage site by the tunnelling and the fact that both ends of the tunnel will come up through the site.’
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said the government was taking “the big decisions for Britain’s future” by moving forward with the scheme.
He said: ’This major investment in the South-west will transform the A303 and benefit those locally by cutting congestion and improving journey times.
‘It will also boost the economy, linking people with jobs and businesses with customers – driving forward our agenda to build a country that works for everyone and not just the privileged few.’
The consultation process begins this week and will end in March.
A preferred route for the scheme will be announced later this year.
Stonehenge with road