Decision makers since 2014
Patrick McLoughlin was Transport Secretary at the time of the decision to go ahead with the A303 Stonehenge tunnel and road widening scheme. He was succeeded in 2016 by Chris Grayling until 2019 when Grant Shapps became Transport Secretary and approved the consent order for the Stonehenge project in 2020. However, following a judicial challenge, the decision was ruled “unlawful” by a High Court judge in 2021and he spent most of 2022 asking for more evidence from National Highways, and consulting interested parties and stakeholders.
Shapps resigned from Boris Johnson’s government and passed on the decision to Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who took up the transport secretary post under Liz Truss in August 2022 before Mark Harper assumed the role following Rishi Sunak’s appointment as prime minister two months later. It is in Mark Harper’s gift to make a decision on the redetermination of the Stonehenge road widening scheme in 2023.
Also: view record of time line of decisions for the A303 Stonehenge scheme.
Grant Shapps orders a redetermination of the scheme and poses a series of questions to National Highways whose answers are consulted on more widely. The latest Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, inherits the task of making a decision on the scheme.
The Department for Transport, Highways England and Historic England lose the judicial review and Grant Shapps’ decision is ruled unlawful by the High Court. DfT does not appeal the ruling.
Grant Shapps approves the order for Development Consent for the A303 at Stonehenge.
The Examining Authority, appointed by the Planning Inspectorate, opened the Examination in April. It closed in October and the Examiners submitted their report and recommendation to Grant Shapps to consider whether to grant consent to Highways England’s application for their A303 road scheme at Stonehenge.
The following reports were produced by the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency (now Highways England) as part of their narrowly focussed (road based only) A303, A30 and A358 corridor feasibility study:
- A303, A358 and A30 corridor feasibility study leaflet
- A303, A358 and A30 corridor feasibility study summary report
- A303, A30 and A358 corridor feasibility study: stage 1 report
- A303, A30 and A358 corridor feasibility study: stage 1 report appendices
- A303, A30 and A358 corridor feasibility study: stage 2 report
- A303, A30 and A358 corridor feasibility study: stage 3 summary report
The Department for Transport’s new £15bn for road building included £1.4m for the Stonehenge Tunnel. Thereafter, the newly created company, Highways England, managed the project for its sole client, the Department for Transport to design and build a short tunnel past the Stonehenge monument approximately along the line of the A303.
Previous documentation published:
Although the Blackdown Hills AONB was protected from major road building, Stonehenge World Heritage Site was not, being of a lower order in planning law. The rest is history.
Somerset Summit and the economic foundations for the A303 Stonehenge scheme
The influential Somerset Summit included local Highways Authorities, Highways Agency (succeeded by Highways England and National Highways), Local Enterprise Partnerships, Chambers of Commerce, and South West MPs. It was set up to promote a package of measures to upgrade the whole of the A303/A358/A30 corridor to dual carriageway. The Summit gave rise to a scoping study by the Department for Transport in 2014.
Westminster listens to a Somerset partnership about its problems with the A303 15 March 2012: https://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2012-03-15/a303-summit-in-westminsterPlease share