MEP hits out at ‘hugely damaging’ tunnel plan for A303 at Stonehenge
Green MEP for the South West, Molly Scott Cato, has called on planners to throw out Highways England plans for a two-lane carriageway and tunnel on the A303 at Stonehenge.
The MEP says the Wiltshire scheme would damage the archaeological heritage and value of the globally acclaimed World Heritage Site and encourage more traffic.
Highways England says the changes ‘will help unlock economic growth in the South West by transforming journey reliability, increasing safety and improving connectivity with neighbouring regions, while protecting or enhancing the environment’.
But UNESCO, the international body charged with overseeing Stonehenge, also opposes the developments and has urged Highways England to explore further options.
“The hugely damaging A303 Stonehenge proposal has less to do with protecting this valuable heritage site and far more to do with increasing road capacity,” said Molly.
“The government have lost sight of the extensive evidence showing that increasing road capacity simply increases traffic volumes further. The two-lane carriageway and tunnel scheme at Stonehenge will induce yet more traffic while failing to significantly affect journey times.
“The huge cost of this destructive project should instead be used to improve public transport. In particular there needs to be an upgrade of the railway line between Salisbury and Exeter which is still single track for much of its length. This could genuinely speed up journeys between London and the South West and help shift freight transport from road to rail. It is also vital to increase the frequency and reach of local and regional bus services.
“Tackling transport emissions is now an emergency as the sector is the leading contributor to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. If we fail to tackle emissions from transport we will fail to meet our climate change targets or legal requirement on air quality.
“There are many measures the government could and should take to encourage a switch from private to public transport. These include restoring the fuel tax escalator – using the funds raised to invest in sustainable transport solutions – and prioritising local economies producing for local markets.”