The Planning Inspectorate has advised Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to deny permission, citing "permanent, irrevocable harm" to the World Heritage site. When will the work begin? Fieldwork is planned to begin in late spring of next year, with the main five-year building phase beginning in 2023.
Stonehenge is a monument dating from about 1500 BC near Amesbury in Wiltshire, England. It is believed that the monument was built as an altar or shrine for the purpose of religious rites. This interpretation comes from evidence such as markings on some of the stones which suggest they may have been painted or marked with the ashes of people who had died nearby. There are also theories that it could have been used as a burial site for kings or important people.
In addition to its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stonehenge is also listed by English Heritage and the Department of Conservation as a scheduled ancient monument. The designation is both a protection and a license to explore further.
The reason why the tunnel project has generated so much interest is because it is expected to give us a unique perspective on the interior structure of the monument itself. Archaeologists believe that by exploring the inside of the monument they can learn more about how it was used over time.
There have been other attempts to excavate within the stone circle over the years but all were abandoned due to security concerns.
The UK government has approved a contentious tunnel near the internationally famed Stonehenge standing stones. On November 12, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the decision. Shapps was supposed to make his choice on July 17. But he asked experts at the Department for Transport (DfT) to go over the issues further and report back in August. The DfT's response confirmed that it supports the proposal by Salisbury International Airport (SIAL), which wants to build a new access road and car park as part of its expansion plan.
SIAL claims the tunnel is necessary to protect visitors to the site during major events like summer festivals or air shows that may affect the visibility of drivers or pedestrians. Critics say the project would be risky because parts of it are under NHA land that belongs to Salisbury City Council. They also point out that there are already plans to build a new visitor center at Stonehenge that will include an exhibition about its history that doesn't require opening up the site to more traffic.
SIAL management says the tunnel is needed to avoid delays during peak times when thousands of people visit the site through its main entrance on A4303. However, opponents claim that there are other ways to solve the problem without building a new tunnel.
The Transport Secretary has given his approval to a scheme to build a PS1.7 billion road tunnel near Stonehenge. The proposal is from French company Vinci, which plans to connect the A303 with the M3 at three different locations around Salisbury Plain.
The tunnel would be the longest in Europe and could help deal with the traffic problems that have arisen because of tourism at Stonehenge. It is expected to open in 2030 and reduce journey times by 20 minutes for most drivers.
Francois de Rugy, director of transport policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said the project was "a clear example of why public-private partnerships are important for improving transportation systems".
He added: "This partnership between a private company and the government is another indication that the UK wants to be a leader in sustainable mobility."
Vinci was selected back in 2013 as one of four bidders to design, build, finance, operate and maintain a new east-west link across London. The company did not get all the contracts but was awarded part of them - including the crucial section through Greenwich Peninsula. The other contractors are Mott MacDonald, Kier and AECOM.