Plans for the £1.6bn Stonehenge Tunnel have been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.
An application by Highways England for a development consent order have been filed. The Planning Inspectorate will now have 28 days to decide whether to accept the plans.
If accepted, the Inspectorate will undertake a detailed examination of the application, in which stakeholders and the public can participate, before making a recommendation on whether it should go ahead to the transport secrtary. Work on site is scheduled to start in 2021.
A public consultation for the scheme finished in August.
The A303 Stonehenge tunnel project is one of the most complex and controversial projects Highways England is undertaking. It involves building a 2.9km long twin-bore tunnel through the World Heritage Site with portals inside its boundaries.
The tunnel has come under fire from opposition groups. In April, the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK told Highways England that it was “alarmed” by the “flawed” proposals, and the Stonehenge Alliance said the work would damage archaeological remains at the site.
The first consultation received 5,000 responses.
The tunnel is to ease congestion along the A303 route which, particularly in the summer when it is often congested.
The road bisects the Stonehenge part of the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site, running just 165m away from the monument. The road also cuts the village of Winterbourne Stoke in two.
The proposed A303 upgrade involves building a new dual two-lane carriageway between Amesbury and Berwick Down, moving the existing road into a tunnel next to the monument.
Turner & Townsend is to provide commercial services for the upgrade.
Galliford Try has already said it will not be bidding for the tunnel as the risk transfer, “onerous” terms and conditions and variable track record meant the project does not fit its business model.
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