Stonehenge tunnel plan ended as campaigners celebrate win

Road and tunnel plan declared unlawful for fear of damage to protected site

Campaigners celebrated victory on Friday after a British judge ruled that government plans for a road and tunnel project near the prehistoric stone circle of Stonehenge were unlawful.

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) challenged plans for a £1.7 billion road improvement project and three-kilometre tunnel, saying it would cause permanent and irreversible damage to the Unesco World Heritage site in southern England.

Stonehenge is one of the UK’s most recognisable landmarks, with the standing stones drawing tourists from around the world. Its exact purpose and construction remain a mystery but the circle's ancient entrance aligns with the sun on the summer solstice.

Grant Shapps, Britain’s transport secretary, approved the road plan in 2020 but Mr Justice Holgate ruled that the approval was unlawful because it failed to properly assess the impact of the project and alternatives were not considered.

A panel of experts had advised the government not to agree to the plans as they would damage the site.

Lawyers for the group said that Stonehenge was safe for now and the government would have to go back to the drawing board.

Campaigners had wanted a longer tunnel if one was considered necessary, but on Friday said the ruling should be a wake-up call for the government as it faces tackling man-made climate change.

“We could not be more pleased about the outcome of the legal challenge,” said SSWHS director John Adams.

Updated: July 30th 2021, 5:41 PM