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Opponents of the proposed Stonehenge A303 tunnel project are set for a second attempt in the High Court to challenge its construction. Highways England aims to construct the tunnel near

Stonehenge in Wiltshire, citing aims to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce travel duration along the A303.

The Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) and the Stonehenge Alliance are contesting the decision to support this £1.7 billion initiative, which involves revamping eight miles of the A303.

Government authorities argue that this plan will not only cut journey times but also address a persistent traffic bottleneck in the area.

Legal proceedings are scheduled to commence later at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Campaigners express their necessity to pursue a judicial review, indicating that raising funds for legal fees has been an uphill battle. John Adams, chair of the Stonehenge Alliance, compares their position to the biblical tale of David and Goliath.

The approval for the two-mile tunnel project was granted in July after previous legal actions taken by campaigners in 2021.

Adams emphasizes the global significance of the site's protection, stating that the proposed tunnel's minimal impact on travel time makes it an inefficient allocation of public funds. He urges National Highways to explore alternative routes that would entirely divert the road away from the World Heritage Site.

This project received initial government approval in 2020, faced opposition, and was subsequently re-approved in July 2023.

Legal representatives from SSWHS, represented by law firm Leigh Day, stress the importance of safeguarding Stonehenge's World Heritage Status from potential harm. They raise concerns about procedural fairness and potential breaches of human rights in the decision-making process.

The absence of an independent examining authority during the re-determination process is highlighted as a significant factor compromising their right to a fair hearing.

Over 230,000 signatures on a petition oppose the proposed tunnel project, with UNESCO, which bestowed World Heritage Site status on Stonehenge, expressing reservations about the initiative proceeding without revisions.

Despite ongoing legal challenges, National Highways remains resolute in their belief that this scheme offers the best solution to alleviate traffic congestion, benefit local communities, and boost the regional economy while preserving and enhancing the World Heritage Site.

However, critics like historian and television presenter Dan Snow argue for alternative solutions, criticizing the government's persistence in pursuing a plan that risks damaging one of the world's most significant archaeological sites.

Stonehenge, situated on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, dates back to around 3100 BC to 1600 BC, potentially holding religious and spiritual significance during the Neolithic Age. Sacrificial graves discovered on-site suggest its historical importance as a pilgrimage destination. Photo by Brian Green, Wikimedia commons.