Stonehenge and the A303
The Stonehenge World Heritage Site is famous throughout the world and is one of the most important prehistoric landscapes in Europe.
Today this landscape is split in two by a major road - the A303 - which acts as a barrier to people enjoying, exploring and understanding the World Heritage Site.
English Heritage wants to see the monument reconnected to its ancient landscape and the negative impact of roads within the World Heritage Site reduced. Great strides to achieve this vision have been made in recent years, including the removal of the old Stonehenge visitor facilities and the A344 road from the landscape.
But there is more to be done.
Tens of thousands of vehicles thunder past Stonehenge on the A303 every day. The heavy traffic and constant noise from the road compromises our enjoyment and understanding of the monument and the road cuts the stones off from much of the surrounding ancient landscape and many prehistoric monuments.
On 1 December 2014, the Government announced that it would invest in a fully bored tunnel of at least 2.9km to remove much of the A303 trunk road from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust all welcomed the announcement, describing it as a 'momentous decision'.
It is vital that any tunnel scheme is in the right place and designed to the best specification. English Heritage along with Historic England and the National Trust will work with the Government, Highways England and other key parties, to find a solution that protects the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site and addresses the adverse impacts the existing A303 has on this extraordinary place.
Our hope is that removing the sight and sound of the noisy, busy road from the World Heritage Site will open up the Stonehenge landscape and enable people to better explore and enjoy it.
Our priority is to care for and conserve Stonehenge for future generations. As part of this, we would like to see the stone circle returned to its intended landscape setting so that it can be understood and appreciated in context, without the experience being ruined by traffic.
Our Latest Update
FEBRUARY 2018 - Heritage bodies respond to Highways England’s public consultation
Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage welcome the work done by Highways England on the design of the proposed A303 road at Stonehenge.
The options put forward today by Highways England go a long way towards protecting and enhancing the World Heritage Site (WHS), according to the three agencies responsible for its care and protection.
However they voiced concerns about a proposal to link two byways, introducing a new route for vehicles close to Stonehenge after the tunnel is built.
Read our press release for more information.
- September 2017 - Joint response to the preferred route announcement
- March 2017 - Our response to the Highways England Public Consultation
- February 2017 - Our joint position statement with the National Trust and Historic England
- The proposed tunnel won't run under Stonehenge. The current proposals are for a 2.9km tunnel to run about 600m to the south of the current A303 surface road. The stability of the stones will not be affected at all.
- A tunnel won't remove the stones from sight. Removing the busy and noisy road means that there will be more opportunities for people to get out of their cars and explore the world heritage landscape that has for years been severed by the road.
- There is no evidence that the proposed tunnel will damage the Mesolithic site of Blick Mead. The proposed tunnel and any infrastructure needed to improve the Countess roundabout are well away from the site (Blick Mead is 700m away from the roundabout). Highways England is aware of the water table issues and will be assessing any potential impact on the site.
- It's not a 'done deal'. There's still work to be done on the tunnel proposals, and the scheme is likely to change, on the basis of feedback from the current consultation process. Later this year, Highways England will make their application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) - a special type of planning permission for nationally significant infrastructure projects.
- Doing nothing isn't an option. The A303 past Stonehenge regularly carries 24,000 vehicles, nearly twice as much traffic as it was designed for, and on a summer weekend that figure leaps to 29,000. The result is severe congestion which compromises the WHS. It also causes delays, affecting local communities, commuters and visitors to Wiltshire. With around 120,000 new jobs and 100,000 new homes expected across the South West by 2021, and even greater growth after that, the A303 will get busier still.