Campaigners lose High Court challenge to “pig-headed” Stonehenge tunnel plans

CAMPAIGNERS have lost a High Court challenge to “pig-headed” plans for a tunnel for the A303 near Stonehenge.

After a three-day hearing in December, Mr Justice Holgate largely dismissed Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site’s (SSWHS) case demanding the decision to approve the plans be reviewed.

Historian Tom Holland, president of the Stonehenge Alliance, said: “This is a devastating loss, not just for everyone who has campaigned against the Government’s pig-headed plans for the Stonehenge landscape, but for Britain, for the world, and for subsequent generations.”

Mr Justice Holgate’s verdict said most parts of the group’s case were “unarguable” and that evidence presented provided “no basis for undermining” the decision to allow the scheme.

However, the group said it would appeal the decision, if it can raise the £15,000 to apply for permission – and a further £40,000 should permission be granted.

READ MORE: Unesco warning over plans for A303 tunnel at Stonehenge
READ MORE: Billion-pound plans for tunnel at Stonehenge approved despite opposition

John Adams, chair of the Stonehenge Alliance and a director of SSWHS, added: “In the face of Government indifference to the harm this road will cause the World Heritage Site, we had no choice but to bring this legal action.

“While this judgement is a huge blow and exposes the site to National Highway’s state sponsored vandalism, we will continue the fight.

“In the dying days of this Conservative Government, which has inflicted so much damage on the country, we cannot let it destroy our heritage as well.”

National Highways says the project would ease traffic around Stonehenge. Picture: National Highways

National Highways says the project would ease traffic around Stonehenge. Picture: National Highways

Transport Secretary Mark Harper (Con, Forest of Dean) approved the plans – which would see a tunnel created and eight miles of the A303 redesigned – in July last year.

Then, in September, cultural body Unesco was reported to have warned the Stonehenge’s status as a World Heritage Site could be under threat if the plans went ahead.

The decision was welcomed by National Highways, who said it would “help to unlock congestion and transform journeys for millions of people using the A303 between the South East and South West”.

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.