MPs back O'Sullivan over Stonehenge funding delay

03/07/2019
Chris Ames

The timetable and viability of Highways England’s plans for a tunnel for the A303 are at risk, according to an influential committee of MPs.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report on Transport infrastructure in the South West, in which MPs also called for ministers to provide more clarity on how they will support a transport strategy for the region and on plans to make rail links into Devon and Cornwall more resilient.

The report notes that decisions on how to fund the Stonehenge project are on the critical path for the planned opening date of 2026 ‘and are now at the mercy of the much-awaited Spending Review’.

MPs warned that any further delay over funding decisions will jeopardise the opening date.

As previously reported on Highways, Highways England chief executive Jim O'Sullivan told the committee at a hearing that, following the reversal of a government decision that the tunnel should be privately financed, Highways England needs confirmation of public funding by the end of the year.

The report points out that the project, which is expected to cost around £1.7bn (excluding VAT), is a key part of the Government’s plans for the A303 road corridor, and the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England expect it to deliver significant heritage benefits as well as easing road congestion. But it says that those bodies ‘do not yet have a clear idea of what improvements they are expecting to see at the World Heritage Site and the surrounding area’.

MPs also noted that the DfT has only committed to starting three out eight possible projects along the route, echoing concerns previously reported on Transport Network that traffic congestion is likely to be eased at some points but pushed to other sections of the road.

The committee’s deputy chair, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, said the committee ‘knows from bitter experience that Transport do not have a good record in delivering major projects punctually’.

He said: ‘Government plans to open the Stonehenge tunnel by 2026 remain in doubt until a clear decision is made on how to fund the £1.7bn scheme. To meet the proposed timetable a funding decision is needed by the end of this year.

‘There is a pressing need for the Department for Transport and Highways England to set out exactly what benefits visitors and local people near the site can expect to see as a result of the scheme.

He added: ‘The tunnel is just one part of major plans to the upgrade the A303 corridor to support economic growth in the South West. However, the Government’s piecemeal approach makes it hard to show the programme is value for money.

‘Unless there is a co-ordinated approach to all eight of the proposed projects there is a risk that traffic jams will be merely shunted along the road.’

Highways jobs

Project Engineer – Scarborough or Whitby Area Office

£24,982 to £35,745
We have an exciting Project Engineer opportunity in our Scarborough or Whitby Highways Operational office. Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Ice Rink Manager

£29,724 - £32,757
We are looking for a friendly and approachable person to join our management team, who can... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Officers

£25.137 - £26.520
Following a redesign of the service, we are now looking to appoint a number of exceptional candidates as Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Officers. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Supervisors

£30.585 - £31.557
Following a redesign of the service, we are now looking to appoint two experienced candidates as Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Supervisors. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Environment Improvement Officer

£24,982 - £27,041 per annum
For further information on the role please click. Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Assistant Director - Capital Projects, Building Services, Highways and Transport

£77,862 to £93,434 per annum
You will lead a diverse range of services and will be responsible for the delivery of an ambitious and varied Capital Programme of... Darlington, Durham
Recruiter: Darlington Borough Council

Senior Assistant Engineer (Network Management)

£32,234 to £34,728
There are 2 roles available and each role will be pivotal to the Council in delivering statutory duties which fall... Wirral, Merseyside
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Team Leader (Network Development)

£37,890 to £40,876
Wirral is home to vibrant, energetic and engaged communities, people who... Wirral, Merseyside
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Head of Clean and Green & Leisure

£73,632 - £80,024 per annum
Are you looking for an opportunity to apply your expertise to make a real difference? Walsall, West Midlands
Recruiter: Walsall Council

Assistant Project Engineer

£27,741 - £29,577 per annum
Do you have a passion for civil engineering and construction? Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Clerk of Works [JE1119]

£30,451 – £34,728
We are looking for a Clerk of Works to join our expanding team, supporting the Senior Engineers to deliver on... Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

CPP Engineer

£19,698 to £35,745
We have developed a career progression pathway with four stages with a well-defined framework for... Cheshire
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Senior HSEQ Advisor

£35,745
An exciting opportunity has arisen to join North Yorkshire County Council's Shared Health and Safety Service to... North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Service Change Officer - Street Scene

Competitive Salary
The Service Change Team supports Street Scene in improving and delivering high quality services to... Colindale, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Barnet London Borough Council

Information and Monitoring Officer

£26,025 - £38,616 per annum depending on skills
Would you like a role in shaping the planning policies of Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Officer - Parking

£35,745 - £40,876 per annum
As a Senior Parking Officer (Parking Enforcement) you will be responsible for managing parking contracts relating to the issue of... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Senior Traffic Engineer

£39,880 - £42,821 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity for someone with excellent experience in Traffic Management and Engineering, or related discipline, to... Pembroke, Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)
Recruiter: Pembrokeshire County Council

Principal Highway Development Management Officer

£32,910
We seek an enthusiastic and experienced individual to join our small and busy team dealing with all aspects of highway development management. East Riding of Yorkshire
Recruiter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Transport & Parking Services Manager

£45,880 to £51,916 per annum
We are looking for a strategic, innovative, and performance-focused manager to lead our Parking Services team and as... Dover, Kent
Recruiter: Dover District Council

Graduate Bridge Engineer

£22,183 to £25,481 per annum
We are happy to consider all applicants at degree level as well as HND (level 5) higher apprentices. Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

 

Highways England takes on tunnels

Also inside:

  • Legal analysis: What the Brexit trade agreement means for you
  • Maintenance: The heavy-duty kit making light work
View the latest issue

Latest Video