NATIONAL TRUST director general Fiona Reynolds has this week urged transport secretary Alistair Darling to press ahead with the £192M A303 Stonehenge tunnel project.
It is widely believed that the project has been shelved, following Darling's decision late last year to reclassify it as a scheme of 'regional importance' (NCE 9 December).
It is now nine months since the public inquiry into the scheme ended. The inspector's report was originally promised for 'late autumn 2004'.
Reynolds criticised the delay . in an open letter to Darling.
'The concern caused by this (nine month) delay has been magnifi ed by your department's recent decision to designate the A303 as a route of regional rather than national importance.
'Clearly, an appropriate road scheme for Stonehenge is of national and international importance, ' says the letter.
'We are asking you, therefore, to honour the government's commitment to the World Heritage Convention and issue the necessary instructions to move this project forward with the urgency we all agree it deserves'.
The letter also accepts that signifi ant differences of opinion remain over the length and route of the tunnel, but claims that these remain 'eminently resolvable'.
The Trust has called for the proposed 2.1km bored tunnel to be lengthened to at least 2.9km.
The International Council on Monuments & Sites UK, which monitors the proposals on behalf of the World Heritage Commission, has argued for a more radical redesign. It wants the road removed from the World Heritage site completely by diverting it through Ministry of Defence land to the north.