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Preferred Bidder Selected For Stonehenge Tunnel

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The preferred bidder has been named for a project to build a road tunnel to take the A303 underground near Stonehenge.

More JV, comprising Webuild/FCC Construcción/BeMo Tunnelling, has been awarded the £1.25 billion contract by National Highways to excavate the two-mile twin bore tunnel, while Atkins, Jacobs and Spanish designer Sener will act in a joint venture as the designers.

Other contractors will be required to deal with important supplementary tasks like conveyor belt installation to clear material from the tunnel during the excavation process.

National Highways planning director Derek Parody said: “The contract will only become live once the Secretary of State has concluded the planning process,“ adding that “the announcement of a preferred bidder in no way pre-empts any decision,” but would put the agency in “the strongest possible position to deliver this transformational scheme and deliver the benefits we know it can”.  

The project is provisional on the planning process granting permission for the tunnel, after previous proposals were halted at the High Court.

While the plans for upgrading the A3030 between Amesbury and Berwick Down have been supported by organisations like English Heritage as they would remove the presence of a noisy main road from the vicinity of the ancient stone circle, opponents have claimed a tunnel would still impinge on the site.

This was not just the view of local campaigners, as the Planning Inspectorate advised in 2020 that transport secretary Grant Shapps should not give the project the green light as it would do “substantial harm” to the site.

Despite that, Mr Shapps granted planning permission, only for the Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site campaign group to secure a judicial review that concluded the minister had acted unlawfully in ignoring the planning inspectorate’s advice.

The revised plans, which also include a bypass for the nearby village of Winterbourne Stoke and junctions with the A345 and A360 on either side of Stonehenge, are now under consideration by Mr Shapps.

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