Stonehenge scheme back in court as earthmovers stood down (again)

21/05/2024
Chris Ames and Dominic Browne

The controversial £2bn Stonehenge road scheme is set for another court battle as campaigners have won a right to appeal.

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) has secured permission to appeal a High Court ruling earlier this year. The High Court threw out an application for a judicial review of the transport secretary’s decision to grant planning permission for the works.

John Adams, chair of the Stonehenge Alliance and one of three directors of SSWHS, said: ‘This is extremely good news. All those who care passionately about our cultural heritage can breathe a sigh of relief. We now have a new opportunity for the government decision to be thoroughly scrutinised.

‘This road scheme would be incredibly damaging to Stonehenge World Heritage Site. Yet, the Government doesn’t seem to care and is desperately trying to bulldoze through this decision before it is thrown out of office.’

Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith described the news as ‘very encouraging for our client’. He said: ‘The court said there is a compelling reason for an appeal hearing. Our client is looking forward to presenting arguments about the fairness of the decision-making process relating to the future of Stonehenge, as well as compliance with international law protecting the World Heritage Site.’

National Highways said this further round of legal action will cause more delays to the scheme, which build a tunnel for the A303 at Stonehenge.

David Bullock, A303 Stonehenge project director for National Highways, said: ‘We are hugely disappointed by this decision, which will cause more delays to this scheme as the next stage of the legal process unfolds.

‘However we will participate fully in any future legal proceedings to continue to present the case for the scheme, working closely with DfT.’

The scheme remains controversial with numerous stakeholders - UNESCO, planning inspectors and hundreds of thousands of people have raised concerns about the plans.

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