A coalition of campaigners has taken the first step towards a legal challenge against the Government’s plan to build a tunnel at Stonehenge.
Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site, which was set up by The Stonehenge Alliance, said it has ‘instructed counsel and Leigh Day to investigate the lawfulness of the Secretary of State’s decision to approve the A303 Stonehenge dual carriageway'.
A computer-generated image of the planned tunnel's eastern entrance
Last month transport secretary Grant Shapps approved the £2bn project, despite a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate that it should be refused.
The campaigners said this had ‘sent shock waves around the world’.
A letter was sent to the Department for Transport (DfT) on Friday (27 November) outlining the group’s concerns, with a request to reply within 10 days. Any judicial review will need to be started by 24 December, the group said.
Stonehenge Alliance president Tom Holland said: ‘I fully back the move to test whether Grants Shapps acted legally in approving this highly wasteful and destructive road scheme.
'The Government has ignored advice from both UNESCO and the independent panel who presided over a six-month examination. To have won the arguments based on reason and evidence, and then to have them overruled on a ministerial whim, shows just how broken the roads approval process is.
‘I urge everyone who cares about the Stonehenge World Heritage Site to support this legal action. There is still a chance to stop the bulldozers moving in and vandalising our most precious and iconic prehistoric landscape.’
Campaigners have launched an appeal on CrowdJustice to raise £50,000 to cover the initial costs of the legal action.
Organisations supporting the Stonehenge Alliance are: Ancient Sacred Landscape Network; Campaign to Protect Rural England; Friends of the Earth; Rescue; the British Archaeological Trust; and Transport Action Network.
The DfT has a policy of not commenting on legal action.