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Plans for tunnel near Stonehenge challenged again

Plans for a road tunnel near Stonehenge that were approved by Britain’s Department for Transport in July are once again being challenged.

The Guardian reported that campaigners have launched a fresh legal battle after the government greenlit plans for the tunnel. Plans that were initially approved in 2020 but were overturned a year later. In July, plans for the £1.7 billion project that would widen roads and include a two-mile tunnel near the Unesco World heritage site were approved by transport secretary, Mark Harper,

The Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site campaign (SSWHS) is challenging the decision by the transport secretary Harper.

The historian and president of the Stonehenge Alliance, Tom Holland, said that if the development was permitted to go ahead it would “permanently and irreversibly desecrate the Stonehenge landscape”.

The high court previously struck down a development consent order for the project in July 2021 amid concern about the impact on the Unesco world heritage site, after the former transport secretary Grant Shapps approved the project in November 2020 in defiance of the planning inspectors’ recommendations. The inspectors had said the road works would cause “permanent, irreversible harm” to the site of the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire.

The judge found Shapps’ decision to approve the project “unlawful” as there was no evidence of the impact on each individual asset at the site, while he had also failed to consider alternative schemes.

But even among conservationists, the scheme has proved divisive, with groups such as Historic England arguing that moving the road would improve the site, while others oppose it. Concerns over the scheme have also been raised on climate grounds.

The Stonehenge site and Avebury were declared a Unesco world heritage site of outstanding universal value in 1986.

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