Views sought on Stonehenge tunnel carbon claims

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has launched a further consultation on National Highways’ A303 Stonehenge tunnel plans.

In particular, Shapps is seeking feedback on National Highways’ updated carbon emission assessments.

In response to his request for more information, National Highways has submitted updated environmental impact assessments to the Planning Inspectorate. These report a decrease in estimated carbon emissions during the road’s construction and its operation, compared with the original calculations submitted in 2018.

National Highways concludes that “GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions from construction have decreased due to a change in GHG emissions factors”, while “predicted overall CO2e emissions have decreased” due to an updated matrix, which has an “updated fleet mix, including the projected uptake of electric vehicles (EVs), up to 2050”.

The current plans are for a 12.8km dual carriageway, and a 3.2km tunnel underneath the World Heritage Site that closely follows the existing A303 route.

Shapps is currently in the process of “redetermining” his decision on National Highways’ planning application for the £1.7bn Stonehenge tunnel, after a High Court judge ruled his original decision to approve the scheme was “unlawful”.

As part of the process, Shapps released a statement of matters in December 2021, which set out the aspects of the planning application that he will look at again.

A big part of redetermining the application involves examining the environmental and carbon impact of the proposed scheme in relation to government commitments and legislation. Shapps will also have to prove that he has considered an alternative scheme for a longer tunnel.

The roads body has previously named three joint ventures on its shortlist for the job, which are:

  • BMJV, comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics SAS and J Murphy & Sons;
  • HDJV, comprising Hochtief Infrastructure GmbH and Dragados SA; and
  • MORE JV, comprising FCC Construcción SA, Salini Impregilo SPA and BeMo Tunnelling UK.

National Highways latest environmental information can be read here.

Interested parties have until 10 June to submit their responses to National Highways’ latest environmental impact assessments.

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