Earlier this year the Government announced plans to upgrade a seven-mile single carriageway stretch of the A303 near Stonehenge in Wiltshire into a dual carriageway. The single carriageway section of the A303 currently runs alongside the stones and the Government’s proposed option is “to construct a 1.8 mile dual carriageway tunnel to improve journey times, remove the sight and sound of traffic and enhance the world heritage site”. A Stonehenge consultation process was  launched, which ran to 5th March, to give the public the opportunity to comment on the proposals.

The critical points in any A303 project are the location of the tunnel portals and the length of the new road being built. The latest proposals envisage an eastern portal just to the east of the point where the current A303 cuts across the Avenue and a western portal to the southwest of the Normanton Down Barrow Group which is well south of the current A303 and so would involve a length of new dual carriageway within the World Heritage Site.

CBA Wessex, together with numerous other archaeological bodies, expressed their opposition to the proposed scheme because of the location of the proposed tunnel portals, especially the western portal, and the introduction of a significant length of dual carriageway into the World Heritage Site. We noted that there was a cheaper surface route, the details of which were hidden in the supporting documents, that skirted the southern edge of the World Heritage Site, but this had not been included as an option in the Public Consultation. Recently the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has commented on the government proposals and has expressed concern that the current proposals would adversely affect the OUV (Outstanding Universal Value) of the World Heritage Site and has urged the government to explore further options including the southern surface route or a longer tunnel that will remove any dual carriageway from the World Heritage Site.

We await the government response.