Unesco report supports Stonehenge tunnel plans


A report released by Unesco supports plans for the conversion of the A303 at Stonehenge into a tunnel.

In October 2015, the UK received representatives from the Unesco World Heritage Centre to investigate and advise on issues related to the proposed project.

The report concluded that the proposed 2.9km dual carriageway tunnel will have a positive impact on the site, even though the organisation is cautious about the possible adverse effects on the historic landscape, including the position and design of tunnel entrances, embankments, entry and exit ramps and the construction work. However, it stated that those issues could be addressed with “good design and construction controls”.

Several heritage groups have welcomed the report. Kate Mavor, chief executive of English Heritage, which looks after Stonehenge said: “Provided that it is designed and built in the right way, a tunnel would reunite the wider landscape around the ancient stones, helping people to better understand and enjoy them."

Part of the government’s £15bn five-year Road Investment Strategy, the project is expected to improve journey times and the surroundings of the World Heritage site.

A £17.5M package of work has already been awarded to an Atkins and Arup joint venture, under the Highways England’s Collaborative Framework (CDF), to develop options to take to public consultation and ultimately a preferred route announcement.

The scheme, an integral part of creating an A303 “expressway” connecting London to the Southwest, also includes the dualling of the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester and the A358 between the M5 at Taunton and A303 at Southfields.

Construction work is set to start by April 2020.

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