Scheme Review Announced As Costs Soar
Roads Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman today announced that a detailed review of the options to ease congestion on the A303 and improve the setting around Stonehenge is to be carried out.
The review is necessary because there has been a very substantial increase in the estimated costs of the proposed Stonehenge tunnel since the scheme went to Public Inquiry.
Following recent detailed site survey work carried out by the Highways Agency the estimated costs of the scheme have risen from £284m when the draft Orders were published in 2003 to some £470m. This significant increase on original costs is due to two main factors; very large quantities of phosphatic (soft, weak) chalk and a high water table, with the groundwater potentially rising to the surface at times of heavy rainfall. These factors would significantly complicate the tunnelling process and extend the overall construction period of the scheme.
Dr Stephen Ladyman said:
"The increase in scheme costs represents a significant change to the basis on which the Government originally decided to progress this scheme. Our recognition of the importance of Stonehenge as a World Heritage Site remains unchanged but given the scale of the cost increase we have to re-examine whether the scheme still represents value for money and if it remains the best option for delivering the desired improvements".
The Government plans to carry out a detailed review of the options, consulting relevant environmental interests including, in particular, English Heritage and the National Trust, before taking a final decision on the Inspector's Report. The review will also consider the implications of delaying the Stonehenge scheme for the delivery of improvements proposed for other single carriageway sections of the A303 further to the west. We will make an announcement on the way forward as soon as possible.
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Posted by Rhiannon
20th July 2005ce
Edited 10th February 2006ce