UK’s controversial Stonehenge Bypass tunnel to go ahead

The UK’s controversial Stonehenge Bypass tunnel project is to go ahead.
Road Structures / February 21, 2024 1 minute Read
By MJ Woof
The UK's highly controversial Stonehenge Bypass Tunnel now looks likely to go ahead – image courtesy of © Albo|

Construction work for the controversial Stonehenge Bypass Tunnel project in the UK now looks likely to go ahead. A legal claim by the Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWSH) was dismissed in the UK’s High Court. This is the latest, and probably the last, attempt by the SSWSH to try and stop the Stonehenge Bypass project.

The SSWSH group claims that diverting the A303 away from the historic site through a bypass that would present environmental and archaeological issues for the 4,000 year old historic monument and the area surrounding it. The project was previously halted in 2021 following blocking moves in the High Court but was then reapproved in mid-2023 by the Department for Transport (DfT). The SSWSH took the case to court again in late 2023, with this now having been dismissed.

The tunnel will be built in a partnership between the Spanish firm FCC, Italian firm WeBuild and Germany company BeMo Tunnelling. The new tunnel will reach a depth of 40m and will be around 200m from the famous Stonehenge archaeological site. 

The project will cost £1.25 billion (€1.41 billion) and will see the construction of a 3.3km dual tube tunnel and connecting roads near the site of the historic monument. The 150km A303 is an important route for Southern England and the stretch past Stonehenge only has a single lane in either direction, resulting in frequent traffic jams. The route carries heavy holiday traffic in summer as well as a high percentage of heavy trucks all year round. Improving the A303 at this stretch will cut congestion and prevent the traffic delays that occur frequently on the route at this point. The new bypass will also improve safety for drivers and local residents alike.

Building the tunnel will be complex. The geology of the area features poor quality rock as well as a high water table. The tunnel will need extensive support measures as well as waterproofing while separation methods will be required to ensure no contaminants reach the local water courses.

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