Campaigners Lead Legal Battle Against Controversial Plan to Build Tunnel Near Stonehenge

Campaigners have launched a last-ditch legal effort to stop the construction of a two-mile road tunnel near Stonehenge, which they say risks permanent damage to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The group, comprised of archaeologists, historians, environmentalists, urban planners, and spiritualists, have brought the case to the UK’s High Court, which deals with serious civil matters, per the Independent.

“In the face of government indifference to the harm this road will cause…we had no choice but to bring this legal action,” John Adams, the chair of Stonehenge Alliance (SA), said in a statement. “As before we hope we are successful in overturning this proposed vandalism. We hope justice will be served over the next three days.”

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Meanwhile, the organization Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWH), which brought the legal case to the court’s attention, is pursuing a judicial review of the government’s initial approval of the project.

The £1.7 billion plan was approved earlier this year by Mark Harper, the UK’s transport security head, and is being managed by a UK government agency called National Highways. The scheme would reroute the A303 road, which runs parallel to the ancient stone circle in Wiltshire and turn it into a dual-carriage highway that critics say passes perilously close to the fragile formation. The existing A303 road would become a public walkway.

In September, UNESCO asked the UK government to “not proceed” with the controversial plan, to no avail. In response, for the first time ever, Stonehenge is now at risk of being added to the cultural body’s list of endangered World Heritage sites. It has requested to make the requested alterations to the plan by February 1, 2024.

According to the statement from the agency, the current plan “remains a threat” to the long-lasting value of Stonehenge as world heritage.

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