Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, was judged to have acted unlawfully when granting permission for a dual carriageway and short tunnel through the Stonehenge WHS. The judge also found that he failed to consider less damaging ways of relieving traffic on the existing A303. Thus the scheme was quashed on 30 July 2021.
We believe the decision by Mark Harper, the new SoS, to once again approve the same scheme on 14 July 2023 is unlawful.
Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site Ltd the legal group set up to fight the scheme, decided to challenge the decision on the basis that:
- It was unfair and potentially a breach of the right to a fair hearing, embodied in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to redetermine the DCO application without re-opening the public examination
- Inadequate (and therefore unlawful) reasons were given for rejecting the alternative of a bypass route, when that would cause less harm to the World Heritage Site
- The Judge said that the Secretary of State acted irrationally not to give weight to the risk that Stonehenge would likely be de-listed as a World Heritage Site if the scheme went ahead
- The approach to climate change was flawed, including that the Government’s Revised Net Zero Strategy was not taken into account and there has been a significant change of climate change law and policy since the National Policy Statement was issued. Also, the carbon emissions from this scheme were not assessed in combination with those emissions from the other planned road schemes along the A303 / A358.
A summary of the grounds submitted by Save Stonehenge WHS’s lawyers here.
- Leigh Day, 29 August 2023: Stonehenge campaigners challenge Government decision to give repeat approval for road scheme through World Heritage Site
- Department for Transport, 14 July 2023: Secretary of State Decision Letter
- Stonehenge Alliance, 28 July 2023: First steps to legal proceedings taken on Stonehenge road scheme on second anniversary of quashing of development consent
- High Court judgement against A303 Stonehenge scheme 30 July 2021: Press release | Summary judgment | Full judgment
- Stonehenge Alliance: Summary of our case against the Development Consent Order