There will be no tunnel for the time being at the prehistoric stone circle at Stonehenge in England. The Supreme Court ruled in a case brought by the Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) group.
The British government approved plans last year for a major upgrade to the A303 local road, a few hundred meters from the stone circle. The road would be moved, get more lanes and a tunnel of 3.2 kilometers should have been built.
With the renovations, the government wanted to promote the flow of traffic. The construction project, which would cost almost two billion euros, should have started in 2023 and would last five years.
But activists were outraged by the plans. They called it sacrilege that a precious, prehistoric landscape would be plowed over and covered with asphalt and concrete. Proponents said that a tunnel would make the highway at Stonehenge no longer visible and the landscape would do better.
According to the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Transport has not looked closely at alternatives. There is also a need for better research into the impact of the project on the environment.
Stonehenge is world famous and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1986. The arrival of the tunnel could have spelled the end of that status. Unesco director Mechtild Rössler recently said that modern area developments could be the first step towards removing the World Heritage status.