The £1.7bn A303 Stonehenge works have been given the green light by the secretary of state, however not everyone is happy. 

Works on the A303 Stonehenge improvement project will go-head, the secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps announced today.

The project will remove the road from the landscape, reduce the traffic noise and ‘restore Stonehenge to something like its original setting’.

This is big news for motorists, as a journey, which could take over an hour, will now be reduced to seven or eight minutes by the two-mile tunnel, according to Highways England.

Wessex Archaeology, who was named as the archaeological specialists back in October in a £35m contract to excavate, record and preserve any interesting finds.

The company will look to be on-site in late spring 2021, with work expected to last more than a year.

Welcoming the news, Wiltshire Council said it was delighted that after years of planning and lobbying that the A303 project would be going ahead.

Cabinet member for highways, Cllr Bridget Wayman, said: “It represents a significant investment in Wiltshire that will boost the south-west economy, unlocking jobs and investment throughout the entire region.

“A comprehensive programme of archaeological mitigation will also bring great opportunities for further learning to enhance people’s understanding of the World Heritage Site and the surrounding area.

“We can now look forward to construction beginning and unlocking all the benefits the scheme will bring to Wiltshire and the south-west.”

Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England said: “We’re really pleased that the secretary of state has approved the Development Consent Order for the Stonehenge tunnel and associated bypass.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has supported this project over a number of years, our stakeholders, the heritage bodies and indeed local communities.

“To have reached this milestone would not have been possible without their contributions.”

President of the Stonehenge Alliance, Tom Holland, however, labelled the decision as 'shocking' and 'shameful'.

Mr Holland said: "A supposedly Conservative government, advised by the Planning Inspectorate to cancel the scheme, has decided instead - at a time when Covid has already blown its budgeting to pieces - to proceed with a £2bn white elephant.

"The decision to inject a great gash of concrete and tarmac into Britain’s most precious prehistoric landscape is one that ranks simultaneously as spendthrift and sacrilegious. We shall continue to oppose it as vigorously as we can."