Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

by Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

by Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site
Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site
Case Owner
Determined to protect the Stonehenge landscape for future generations
on 02nd December 2020
pledged of £100,000 stretch target from 3282 pledges
Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site
Case Owner
Determined to protect the Stonehenge landscape for future generations

Latest: July 24, 2023

New crowdfunder launched to Save Stonehenge WHS again!

We have launched a new crowdfunder to challenge the Government's decision, on 14 July 2023, to once again approve a highly damaging road through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. Please use thi…

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Stop desecration of Stonehenge landscape by major new road 

Who we are

We are a group of individuals closely associated with the Stonehenge Alliance which has been campaigning for around 20 years to protect the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Stonehenge Alliance protesting at Highways England’s plans

Monumental vandalism of the Stonehenge landscape must be stopped!

We want to challenge the Government’s decision to approve the construction of a £2 billion dual carriageway through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. 

This decision went against the recommendation of the independent Panel that scrutinised the proposals. 

The new road and tunnel would cause massive and irreparable damage to the archaeology and landscape in violation of the UK’s international commitments to safeguard the site for future generations.

Highways England’s mock-up of the new road through the western part of the World Heritage Site

But isn’t the road in a tunnel?

The spin by Highways England and the Government is that the scheme will help “protect” and “enhance” the World Heritage Site. 

The tunnel, at around 3km long, is far too short to protect a site 5.4km wide. 

Twin tunnel portals, deep dual carriageway cuttings, and slip roads would be constructed within the World Heritage Site, along with huge interchanges at its boundaries. Untold archaeological evidence would be destroyed and travellers’ passing view of the Stones would be lost. There would be serious impacts on the natural environment and an inevitable increase in carbon emissions.

Map showing how the tunnel isn’t long enough to avoid damaging the World Heritage Site (Courtesy Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust)

Why Stonehenge is so special

Stonehenge, together with Avebury and their surrounding landscapes, were designated a World Heritage Site in 1986 because of their unique Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments and sites dating back some 6,000 years. The famous Stonehenge monument stands at the heart of, and inseparable from, an expanse of chalkland remarkable for its evidence of our distant ancestors: their homes and living spaces, farming, working and ceremonial practices. It is described by the UK Government as a “landscape without parallel”.

Tom Holland, Stonehenge Alliance president, with the petition at 10 Downing Street (currently at around 200,000 signatures)

What is a World Heritage Site?

World Heritage Sites are recognised as outstanding examples of cultural or natural heritage and are so designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They are put forward for designation by national governments who promise to safeguard them for future generations.

Exciting new discoveries

In recent years, with the use of modern geophysical techniques, great advances have been made in archaeological discovery. Much scientific survey work of this kind in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site awaits analysis. In 2020, a major new monument was identified: a series of huge pits centred on Durrington Walls henge, not far from Stonehenge. A few years ago, exciting Mesolithic finds were discovered at Blick Mead. Who knows how much unknown archaeology would be lost by bulldozing great swathes of the landscape for a new road?

Sir Tony Robinson of Time Team fame, explains his concerns about the road

Isn’t the new road needed to help the South West? 

This road is one of eight schemes needed to complete dualling of the A303 corridor from Basingstoke to Exeter – most of them not yet worked up. Any perceived benefits of the Stonehenge scheme are many years away: it would simply move traffic to the next congestion hotspot. 

Completion of all these road schemes wouldn’t solve the problem either. It would encourage more traffic along the A303 corridor and into the South West whose rural roads already suffer from too much traffic at peak times.

Isn’t the road good for the economy?

No, the new road will cost far more to build than it will ever deliver in benefits, even by Highways England’s own figures.

What’s next?

To stop this monstrous desecration of our ancient past and inexplicable urge to increase carbon emissions in a climate emergency, we need to go to the High Court to seek a Judicial Review of the decision to approve this grossly Philistine and expensive road scheme.

Every effort must be made to save this international treasure

We’re lucky to have a legal team experienced in these issues. They have agreed to represent us at a discount. We must quickly raise at least £50,000, although this might rise if the case is more complicated than first anticipated. This is to cover lawyers’ costs, court fees and the risk of having to pay some of the Department for Transport’s costs if we lose. Our initial target is to raise £25,000 to get our case going in the hope that we can reach an overall target of £50,000 to be able to complete the Judicial Review process. 

If we are able to raise more than this, funds will be ring-fenced to cover any additional unforeseen legal costs, including any potential appeal, our wider costs for this case, and to support other heritage or road campaigns in the courts and planning system.

Thank you for reading this – and please consider helping with a donation.

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Update 8

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

July 24, 2023

New crowdfunder launched to Save Stonehenge WHS again!

We have launched a new crowdfunder to challenge the Government's decision, on 14 July 2023, to once again approve a highly damaging road through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. Please use this new crowdfunder from now on to support our work.

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to this crowdfunder set up during our first legal action launched in 2020 to prevent a new road being built through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. Despite being successful and the Government's approval of the A303 Stonehenge scheme being quashed by the High Court on 30 July 2021, we kept this crowdfunder open as we always suspected that the Government would try and force through the same damaging scheme again. We were proved right on 14 July 2023, when they approved it days before the Somerset and Frome by-election.

Any money raised on this crowdfunding page since then will go towards paying for the legal advice needed for a second challenge. However, to make things simpler and easier to understand moving forwards, we have set up a new crowdfunder for this latest legal action. So please contribute if you can: and share with friends and family.

We've seen off National Highways once and with your help we will do so again, and safeguard Stonehenge World Heritage Site for future generations!

Chris, John and Mike

Update 7

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

July 14, 2023

Shocking decision threatens Stonehenge landscape again

Today the Government has announced it has approved, for a second time, the discredited National Highways Stonehenge scheme which 5 planning inspectors recommended should be refused and to which UNESCO objected. It once again risks the status of Stonehenge as a World Heritage Site.

Despite the previous decision being quashed by the courts, in part due to a lack of proper consideration of alternatives, it appears the Government really doesn't care about the damage this road will do. There still has been no proper consideration of alternative solutions, while the economic case for the road makes no sense at all. As we have argued, there should be a new examination of the scheme to look at this complex and critical issue. It is too important to be done by a few written submissions with no independent scrutiny of National Highways' outlandish claims.

That's why we desperately need to raise funds to seek a legal opinion about this second Government decision. That will help us decide whether we can once again challenge the Government in the courts to safeguard the future of the Stonehenge landscape and World Heritage Site. Please contribute if you can. 

Many thanks

PS - for the latest news please look on the Stonehenge Alliance's website

Update 6

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

Jan. 20, 2022

New threat? Application to be redetermined

On 30 November, Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, announced he would be redetermining the application for the Stonehenge scheme. He issued a statement of matters outlining what further information he wanted to consider when remaking his decision. He then asked National Highways to respond first and by the 11 January. They have now done so but their response has not yet been published. When it is, it is expected that interested parties such as the Stonehenge Alliance will be asked to submit their response and to comment on anything National Highways has said.

At the time of this update, we do not know when this next stage will take place, nor are we clear whether there will be further rounds of consultation before Grant Shapps makes a new decision.

We remain alert as ever to the danger that the Government is keen to force through this highly damaging scheme come what may and as such, we have to be prepared for a potential second legal challenge. We will update this page with any developments as and when they arise.

Update 5

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

July 31, 2021

We won!

Damaging road scheme thrown out by High Court

Thanks to our brilliant legal team we have succeeded in getting the planning permission (the Development Consent Order) for the A303 Stonehenge scheme quashed in the High Court.

The judge found that the Transport Secretary did not have all of the evidence needed lawfully to carry out the ‘heritage’ balancing exercise required by planning policy; and that he had unlawfully left out of account consideration of a less damaging alternative to the scheme, such as a longer tunnel.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all of our supporters without whom we could not have made this legal challenge.

Despite this fantastic victory, the battle may not be over. We will find out in the next few weeks whether the Secretary of State will appeal the judgement. He could also seek to amend the scheme, but that would take a lot longer. Therefore, at present we will keep this crowdfunder open until we know where we stand.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate this remarkable victory and be thankful that Stonehenge World Heritage Site has been saved from Highways England’s highly destructive road scheme.

Many thanks,

Chris, John, Mike & Kate

Update 4

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

June 18, 2021

Our day in court arrives!

On Wednesday (23rd June) our legal challenge to Grant Shapps’ decision to approve the highly damaging road scheme through the World Heritage Site will be heard at the High Court. The hearing, which is likely to last for 3 days may be our last chance to stop this wanton destruction.

The hearing is taking place in person at the Royal Courts of Justice, but only our legal team will be allowed to attend. The public, however, can watch proceedings online, but need to register with the court, the day before (on the Tuesday) as follows:

To observe proceedings remotely, people need to email [email protected] no earlier than Tuesday 22nd June, with case ref. no. CO/4844/2020. A link will be sent to them up to 15 minutes before the hearing. Please note it is illegal to record or take any screenshots of proceedings.

While we will be anxious to know what the judgement will be, it’s unlikely to be known for some time.

Update 3

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

Feb. 27, 2021

Our date in the High Court!

Success at the first hurdle! On 24 February we learnt that our challenge to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ shocking decision to go ahead with the A303 Stonehenge scheme would be heard in the High Court on 23 – 25 June.

Apart from the Department for Transport defending our challenge, Highways England and Historic England will also be taking part as interested parties.

We’re contesting the decision on the following grounds:

  • Harm to each heritage asset within the project should have been weighed in the balance, instead of considering the “historic environment” as a whole.
  • None of the advice provided by Historic England provided the evidential basis for the Secretary of State’s conclusion of “less than substantial harm” to any of the assets impacted by the project.
  • He allowed purported “heritage benefits” to be weighed against heritage harm, before deciding whether that overall harm was “substantial” or “less than substantial”, which was unlawful under the National Policy Statement
  • He failed to take into account that development consent would breach the World Heritage Convention
  • He left out of account mandatory material considerations: the breach of various local policies; the impact of his finding of heritage harm which undermined the business case for the proposal and the existence of at least one alternative

Thanks to your generosity we reached our initial target of £50,000 very quickly and this enabled us to go forward with the necessary preparation work for the judicial review. However, due to the complicated nature of the case and the amount of work needed for a three-day hearing, we are having to raise our target to £80,000. We hope you understand and feel able to continue to support us. Legal action is expensive and although our lawyers are working for us at a heavily discounted rate, costs mount up. We also have to bear in mind that any decision could be appealed which we would potentially have to fundraise for as well.

Nevertheless, we are firmly committed to the fight to save Stonehenge World Heritage Site from irreparable damage and with your help we have successfully negotiated the first hurdle. Now we need to prepare for the hearing.

Thanks for your support so far, we cannot do this without you.

Update 2

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

Jan. 2, 2021

Our target has been reached!

We are overwhelmed by the generosity of over 2,000 donors who have met our stretch target of £50,000 within a month! Thank you all so much for your wonderful support which means that we now have funding to go forward to the next stage. BBC online news reported this fantastic achievement on 31 December.

Donors’ support allowed our application to be made on 23 December for a judicial review of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ decision to proceed with the A303 Stonehenge tunnel scheme.  Our lawyers issued a press release on the same day which sets out the key grounds of our challenge. We expect to hear from a judge later in January whether we have a case.

Legal action is both expensive and unpredictable. Even if we have a case it could eventually lead to an appeal which would involve greater costs than so far anticipated. Any funds raised over the £50,000 we need for the judicial review stage will be prioritised to pay any further costs that might be incurred on our case.

So we continue to welcome donations to the appeal and sincerely hope that the strength of concern shown for protection of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site brings a positive outcome for this internationally valued heritage landscape in 2021.

We send all good wishes to our supporters for the New Year and will continue to post updates on the case when we have news.

Update 1

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site

Dec. 3, 2020

Fantastic Support!

Thanks to the amazing generosity of over 1,000 people we've smashed our initial target in less than 60 hours. This means we've been able to kick-start the challenge as we can now cover the preparation costs.

This is really great news, especially at such a difficult time for many. We know that people are shocked and angry at Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ decision to approve the highly damaging dual carriageway through Stonehenge World Heritage Site, against the advice of UNESCO and the government’s own independent planning inspectorate. And that outrage has not been confined to the UK: A former Prime Minister of New Zealand expressed her concern on Twitter.

We received good coverage of our launch, including on ITV, BBC Points West, BBC, The Guardian, The Telegraph (£), Mail online, The Times (£) and many more. We know that people care passionately about our heritage and very much want us to succeed.

We now need to push on to our £50,000 target so that we can apply for a judicial review before Christmas. A judge will then decide, sometime in the New Year, whether we have a case (which we certainly believe we do!).

We are tremendously grateful for everyone's support. Please continue to share our appeal with friends, family and colleagues. This could help us raise the remaining money and give us a fighting chance to stop this wanton vandalism of one of the world’s most iconic heritage sites.

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