UK’s Stonehenge Bypass approved by Government

The UK’s Stonehenge Bypass project has been approved by the Government.
July 17, 2023 1 minute Read
By MJ Woof
The UK Government has given its approval for the construction of the Stonehenge Bypass - image courtesy of © Simon Taylor |

Government approval has been given for the controversial Stonehenge Bypass project in the UK. Upgrading the busy A303 route past the historically important Stonehenge site. A new twin tube tunnel will be built to carry the A303. This is one of the UK's major road projects planned by National Highways.

The UK Government has granted a Development Consent Order for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, which will reduce congestion and cut journey times for drivers using the A303 between the south-east and south-west.

The proposals were initially granted consent in 2020, and following a legal challenge and a High Court ruling against the decision-making process, the application has undergone a thorough redetermination process of more than 12 months.

The upgrade will tackle congestion on the single carriageway section of the A303 route, which is known for lengthy delays as well as suffering safety issues. The improvement will improve journey times and reliability between the M3 and M5.

The A303 Stonehenge upgrade includes 13km of dual carriageway between Amesbury and Berwick Down and a tunnel 3.2km long underneath the World Heritage Site. The tunnel will follow the existing A303 route, but a further 50m away from the Stonehenge monument, avoiding important archaeological sites, and avoiding intrusion on the view of the setting sun from the stones during the winter solstice. There will also be a new bypass to the north of the village of Winterbourne Stoke junctions with the A345 and A360 either side of the World Heritage Site.

The aim is to commence preparatory work in 2024. There is a six-week period in which parties can lodge an intention to legally challenge the decision. As the project is the focus of both environmental and archaeological concerns, further appeals are highly likely.

Last year the company awarded the Main Works contract to the MORE joint venture, comprising FCC Construcción, WeBuild and BeMo Tunnelling, to deliver the £1.25 billion tunnel and main construction work.

Costain and Mott MacDonald will be operating as the company’s Delivery Assurance Partner, providing technical and construction management expertise by helping mobilise the main works contractor, oversee construction, assist the discharge of consent requirements and assure the design.

The construction phase is scheduled to take five years to complete and ahead of the main work, Wessex Archaeology will carry out archaeological mitigation work, while Octavius (formerly Osborne) will undertake preliminary work, including the reconfiguration of local authority roads.

Archaeological fieldwork and preliminary work will start first, with the main five-year construction phase to follow that programme. Local communities will be able to find out more about plans for the A303 Stonehenge upgrade at a series of public information events to be announced in due course.

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