A controversial plan to create a road tunnel near Stonehenge has been given the green light.
The two-mile road tunnel will be built near the prehistoric site in Wiltshire to help reduce congestion on the A303.
The decision, which was confirmed by transport minister Andrew Stephenson, contradicts recommendations made by planning officials who warned “permanent, irreversible harm” would be caused to the World Heritage Site.
The Planning Inspectorate said the project would have a substantial impact on the integrity and authenticity of the area, “affecting not only our own, but future generations”.
Despite this, in a letter approving the project, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The Secretary of State agrees the benefits of the development would include enabling visitors to Stonehenge to see the stone circle without the visual and aural distraction of road traffic.”
But environmentalists and archaeologists oppose the plan
Historian, author and broadcaster Tom Holland, who is president of the Stonehenge Alliance said: “This is a shocking and shameful decision.
“A supposedly Conservative government, advised by the planning inspectorate to cancel the scheme has decided instead – at a time when COVID has already blown its budgeting to pieces – to proceed with a £2bn white elephant.
“The decision to inject a great gash of tarmac and concrete into Britain’s most precious prehistoric landscape is one that ranks simultaneously as spendthrift and sacrilegious.
“We shall continue to oppose it as vigorously as we can.”
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