The announcement today of the preferred route for the A303 upgrade near Stonehenge shows that the project remains on track. This critical new infrastructure will slash journey times to the West Country and alleviate traffic problems and rat-running in nearby villages.
Stonehenge is a major bottleneck and barrier to unlocking the economic potential of the region. The existing road also dissects important archaeology within the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Today’s announcement by Highways England is an important step forward. After extensive consultation, a twin-bore tunnel and a bypass north of Winterbourne Stoke has been revealed as the favoured option.
I’m pleased the project team has taken on board feedback from archaeologists. English Heritage and the National Trust both strongly supported a tunnel.
This has been a controversial process – it would have been impossible to reconcile the views of everyone and still deliver a viable solution that is in the best interest of the World Heritage site.
We need to remember that this is a strategic road and a project of national significance, which is not being funded from local transport budgets. Improving local roads is a separate issue and one which I remain fully committed to.
There now begins a process over the next year of further consultation leading up to the formal planning process. I will be doing my utmost to ensure that any outstanding concerns are properly addressed and the needs of local people taken into account.