Stonehenge A303 Road Improvement Scheme
On 1 December 2014, the Government announced in its Autumn Statement that it would invest in a tunnel of at least 2.9km to remove much of the A303 road from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. This would be a fully-bored tunnel. Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust welcomed the announcement as a 'momentous decision'. If implemented it would be the biggest single investment ever made by Government in this country's heritage.
On this page:
- Working together
- Heritage bodies respond to Highways England's public consultation on A303 tunnel scheme
- Watch our video
- Response to the preferred route announcement for proposed A303 dual carriageway and tunnel
- Joint statement on Highways England's public consultation on route options for the A303 tunnel scheme
- Public Consultation response
Over the past three years, we have been working closely with English Heritage the National Trust and Highways England, as well as organisations such as ICOMOS (International Council for Monuments and Sites) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) to make sure plans for the tunnel protect and enhance the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. The tunnel would remove much of the existing barrier to the Stonehenge Landscape that is caused by the A303 and it would allow visitors to explore the whole of the World Heritage site.
Heritage bodies respond to Highways England’s public consultation on A303 tunnel scheme
8 February 2018
Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage welcome the work done by Highways England on the design of the proposed A303 road at Stonehenge.
The options put forward today by Highways England go a long way towards protecting and enhancing the World Heritage Site (WHS), according to the three agencies responsible for its care and protection.
However they voiced concerns about a proposal to link two byways, introducing a new route for vehicles close to Stonehenge after the tunnel is built.
In a joint statement the partners said:
"We welcome the improvements made to the scheme and, with further work, believe it has the potential to protect and enhance the World Heritage Site if the design includes a 3.2km (2 mile) tunnel incorporating a 200m grass-covered canopy at the western end, steep sided cuttings and a sensitively-located green bridge to hide the traffic and the road to the west. This will reunite a landscape that has been severed by the A303 for generations.
"It is essential that the final design is right in all these areas to protect the unique landscape of the World Heritage Site. We particularly want the proposed green bridge near the current Longbarrow Roundabout to be wide enough to form an effective physical and visual link between important monuments in the landscape.
"However, we are very concerned about the detrimental impact of traffic on the byways on the World Heritage Site and believe this will be made worse by the proposal to link existing byways after the surface A303 is removed.
"The World Heritage Site is internationally-important, not just for Stonehenge itself but for the unique and rich concentrations of burial mounds and monuments in the landscape. This is a once-in-a generation opportunity to reunite this ancient landscape, giving people the opportunity to tread pathways used by our ancestors who built the monuments, to visit and appreciate the monuments and see and hear wildlife without the intrusion of the traffic and noise from the road.
"We will closely examine the details published today and will submit our full and detailed responses to the consultation in due course. We will continue to engage with international heritage advisors and others to help to ensure Highways England fully assesses the heritage impact and comes up with the right solution for the World Heritage Site."
Video: 1 December 2015
Tens of thousands of vehicles thunder past Stonehenge on the A303 every day. The heavy traffic and constant noise blight the landscape and the current road carves the entire World Heritage Site in two.
Efforts have been made to find a solution for the A303 since 1986 when Stonehenge became a World Heritage Site. It is vital that any tunnel scheme is in the right place and designed to the best specification, to protect the Outstanding Universal Value for which the site has been designated by UNESCO.
Response to the Preferred Route Announcement for the A303 Amesbury - Berwick Down - the Stonehenge Tunnel
12 September 2017
Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage welcome today’s announcement of the repositioned route for the proposed A303 dual carriageway and tunnel past Stonehenge. We believe the amended route can, if designed and located with the utmost care, deliver a lasting legacy for the World Heritage Site and restore peace and tranquillity to the Stonehenge landscape.
The three heritage organisations are pleased that Highways England has improved the route of the road as it travels through the World Heritage Site, particularly in relation to the winter solstice alignment.
We remain committed to working with and constructively challenging Highways England to deliver a final design that protects and enhances the World Heritage Site. We will examine the specific details of the tunnel and road design when they become available.
In a joint statement Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage said:
“The Stonehenge World Heritage Site is internationally-important not just for Stonehenge itself but for the unique and rich concentrations of burial mounds and monuments in the landscape. Brimming with nature, the open chalk grassland is also home to rare and endangered species of wildlife.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reunite this ancient landscape which is currently severed by a huge volume of road traffic.
“We welcome the amended route and believe it can, if designed and located with the utmost care, deliver a lasting legacy for the World Heritage Site and restore peace and tranquillity to the Stonehenge landscape.
“The route announced today will ensure the winter solstice alignment will be unspoilt by lights and traffic from the road. We also want to see the globally important archaeology protected, the settings of the ancient burial sites respected and the views between those sites restored. It is now critical to ensure that the benefits of this new route can be realised through careful design and mitigation of archaeological risks, particularly at the western portal of the tunnel and the approach road.
“We remain committed to working with all those with an interest in the World Heritage Site to protect it and help people to better enjoy and explore this iconic place. We believe that this road scheme, including a bored tunnel of at least 2.9km (1.8 miles) can achieve that aim by opening up and re-uniting the historic landscape.”
Joint statement on Highways England’s public consultation on route options for the A303 tunnel scheme
8 February 2017
Public Consultation response
We welcome the work done by Highways England on the design of the proposed A303 road at Stonehenge. The options they have put forward go a long way towards protecting and enhancing the World Heritage Site, although there is more work to be done.
24 April 2018
Here we have the documents which make up our formal response to the statutory consultation run by Highways England.
Our letter summarising our response to the consultation:
Although not part of our response to the consultation, you may also be interested in how we assessed the Highways England proposals.
Assessment of the A303 proposed route: