THE decision on whether or not to build a tunnel underneath Stonehenge has been delayed for four months “following notification of a recent archaeological find”.
It comes after a team of archaeologists discovered a major new prehistoric monument just a short distance away from Stonehenge, labelled an ‘astonishing discovery’.
In a statement on the government website, MP Andrew Stephenson has said the deadline for the decision is to be extended to November, Friday 13 – an extension of four months – to “enable further consultation on and consideration of this matter before determination of the application by the Secretary of State [for Transport, Grant Schapps]”.
The deadline had been tomorrow (Friday, July 17).
Mr Stephenson added: “This statement concerns the application made under the Planning Act 2008 for the proposed construction by Highways England of a new two-lane dual carriageway for the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down in Wiltshire (also known as the ‘A303 Stonehenge’ application.
“Under sub-section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make his decision within three months of receipt of the Examining Authority’s report unless exercising the power under sub-section 107(3) to extend the deadline and make a Statement to the House of Parliament announcing the new deadline.
“The Secretary of State received the Examining Authority’s report on the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down Development Consent Order application on 2 January 2020 and the deadline for a decision was previously extended from 2 April 2020 to 17 July 2020 to allow for further work to be carried out.
“The decision to set a new deadline is without prejudice to the decision on whether to give development consent.”
Derek Parody, Highways England Project Director for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said: “We have received the announcement to defer the DCO decision on the A303 Amesbury to Berwick upgrade and we will be working with the Department for Transport in the coming months to assess the timescales for the project.
“We are confident that the proposed scheme presents the best solution for tackling the longstanding bottleneck on this section of the A303 returning the Stonehenge landscape to something like its original setting and helping to boost the south-west economy.”