Where have we got to?

As things stand, the only thing that is stopping the research archaeologists and civil engineering contractors from starting work on the damaging road widening scheme at Stonehenge World Heritage Site in 2024 is the legal appeal.  Latest position here.

Planning context

The Stonehenge road scheme is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) that requires approval by the Secretary of State for Transport.  NSIPs are defined in the 2008 Planning Act and apply to large scale developments such as roads (promoted by National Highways), railways, harbours, power stations, transmission lines and pipelines, gas storage and others.  These projects are taken through a separate planning application process to obtain a Development Consent Order (DCO) granted by the relevant Secretary of State, in this case, managed by the Department for Transport.   Here is our explainer about NSIPs and the DCO planning process written in 2018 to help people get involved.  

 A303 Stonehenge DCO application from 2017 to present

Pre consultation: 12 January to 5 March 2017 – The promoter, National Highways, published options for a non-statutory consultation to develop route options.

2017 September: Preferred route announced

2018 February 8 to April 23 Statutory: public consultation.  This was followed by a supplementary consultation on 14 August 2018

2018 October 18: Draft DCO submitted to Planning Inspectorate – accepted by Planning Inspectorate on 16 November 2018. Click: What is planned?  Images, maps & plans.

2019 December 8 to January 11: Registration of Interested Parties to Examination Authority (ExA). Interested Parties are those members of the public who wish to register their objection, or support for the scheme

2019 April 2: ExA’s Preliminary Meeting with Interested Parties, meeting the ExA, setting out timetable for deadlines for receipt of information by the Planning Inspectorate and Accompanied Site Inspections

2019 October 2: End of 6 month Examination.  The ExA set out Principal Issues, Written Questions and Issue Specific Hearings.  Unlike a public inquiry, there is no cross examination of the scheme promoter by Interested Parties.  Instead, the ExA put questions to the promoter and their specialists prompted by Interested Parties.

2020 January 2: ExA Report and Recommendation sent to Secretary of State for Transport.   But not published until SoS for Transport reaches a decision.

2019 November 19: Decision by Secretary of State for Transport (having been statutorily twice delayed: 2 April, then 17th July) with letter giving reasons for going ahead with the scheme.  ExA report published giving reasons why the scheme should not be approved.

2021 June 23-25: High Court Hearing.

2021 July 30: DCO quashed.  High Court judge ruled against the Secretary of State’s decision to proceed with the scheme: judgment by The Hon. Mr Justice Holgate: Summary | Full

2021 August 10: Notice of re-determination of the scheme followed by a Statement of Matters for further representations by the Applicant (National Highways)

2021 January 23 to 2022 August 25: Submissions by Interested Parties and responses by the Applicant including UNESCO’s Joint Advisory Mission report.

2023 July 14: Decision by Secretary of State for Transport: DCO approved.

2023 August 4: DCO came into force

2023 December 12-14: High Court Challenge

2024 February 19: Case dismissed

2024 March 11: Application to the Court of Appeal Decision for the Court of Appeal to accept the case awaited.

2025 April: DCO paused, public information events by National Highways: 27 April to 7 May 2024


Stonehenge Alliance Summary of Stonehenge Alliance case against the A303 Stonehenge DCO

LIVE DCO TIMELINE FROM 2014 TO PRESENT with links to documents, including Stonehenge Alliance representations →


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