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Stonehenge Tunnel on project 'at risk' list

Visual of what one of the stonehenge portals might look like

The Department for Transport has released the data used by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) in its annual report, showing that the A303 Stonehenge Tunnel project could face serious delays.

The number of major government projects considered at risk has dropped from 44 to 38 according to the latest Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) report, despite two projects being rated “unachievable”.

The Stonehenge scheme was given a red rating, meaning that unless urgent action is taken, it could be undeliverable. In October the rating was changed to amber/red to reflect increased confidence after changes were made to the complex project. The color-coded ratings show confidence in a project’s delivery.

The A303 from Amesbury to Berwick Down includes the Stonehenge 2.9km twin bored tunnels. Despite being at such an early stage, the project has met resistance from heritage bodies. It was originally awarded a red grade to reflect complexities of the project.

A target has been set to start the project within the first Roads Investment Strategy (RIS1), before April 2020. However, that can only be achieved if the project is publicly financed and a private financing model is being developed.

The Lower Thames Crossing has suffered similar uncertainty and been graded amber/red. While the project is currently on schedule to open in 2025 if publicly financed, a private financing scheme is being considered which could delay the project by up to two years.

Meanwhile the DfT is planning changes to the capacity of its East West Rail western section delivery team following recommendations from the IPA. More technical and managerial resources are being made available, while the DfT will review the project quality process.

Highways England has been contacted for comment.

Other projects:

A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme Amber Construction started in 2016 and it is on track to open to traffic in December 2020. 
Airport Capacity Programme Amber The amber rating reflects the political complexities around Heathrow expansion
Crossrail Amber/Green On time and on budget at nearly £15bn
Great Western Route Modernisation (GWRM) including electrification Amber/Red Significant changes have been made to the programme management following a 2015 report 
HS2 Amber/Red The rating reflects the size of the project. Significant contracts have bee awarded in recent days.
M20 Lorry Area Red Extra capacity around the M20 in Kent. Detail designs have delayed the scheme, which is now subject to a judicial review
Midland Main Line Programme Amber Electrification from London St Pancras to Kettering and Corby.
North of England Programme Amber/Red Improving connectivity and capacity of the rail network in the region.
South West Route Capacity  Amber/Red Delivering increased capacity to and from London Waterloo station. The rating reflects changes to the franchising during a part-closure of the station.
Thameslink Programme Amber/Green Increasing capacity in London. The scheme is on time and due to finish in December 2018. 

Readers' comments (1)

  • Philip Alexander

    Why doesn't the IPA put HS2 on a red alert and get it cancelled? Save the country £120 BILLION. Then you can have a bypass of Stonehenge. Give me strength, this is NOT a complex project. It's a road for heaven's sake. The Public Inquiry in 2001/2 gave approval for a (shorter) tunnel to be built, even though it doesn't really need one. Just get on with it. It's obvious that the government is now facing difficulty with its capital works budget. These promises of road and other projects have just been hot air and spin, but somehow HS2 sails on without proper scrutiny. What is the matter with people? Why aren't there marches on parliament?

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