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£3.4bn RIS2 funding cut raises questions about Stonehenge Tunnel’s future



A £3.4bn funding cut to National Highways road investment strategy (RIS2) has raised questions about the future of major projects including the planned £1.7bn Stonehenge Tunnel scheme.


The RIS2 funding reduction is revealed within the official Budget document put out by Treasury earlier this week.


The RIS2 investment envelope was set at £27.4bn when approved in 2020. However, within the latest Budget document the investment envelope is listed at £24bn.


The Budget document states that “£24 billion of strategic roads investment from 2020 to 2025” will be used to deliver “over 60 upgrades, including the largest scheme in a generation – the Lower Thames Crossing – and major upgrades to the A66, A428, A417 and A12”.


The lack of mention of the Stonehenge Tunnel or wider A303 upgrade has led to speculation that the controversial scheme has either been pushed back until after 2025 or scrapped entirely.


NCE understands that no firm decision has been made on the future of the scheme. Instead the funding reduction is thought to be due to delayed schemes including the Stonehenge Tunnel being pushed back until RIS3 after running into problems obtaining planning approval.


Transport secretary Grant Shapps is understood to still be considering his options in relation to the Stonehenge scheme, after a High Court judge quashed the original development consent order.


Shapps was ordered to “re-determine” the A303 planning application after a High Court judge ruled that the initial planning approval was unlawful.


In re-determining the application, Shapps is likely to have to consider the impact of the scheme on World Heritage assets as well as exploring alternative options such as a longer tunnel.


Elsewhere in the Budget, the government announced a £1.7bn levelling up fund to finance work on 105 projects across the country.


However, the much-anticipated Integrated Rail Plan was once again delayed, leading to calls for clarity on projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.


(Orginal Source: Rob Horgan. https://www.newcivilengineer.com/latest/3-4bn-ris2-funding-cut-raises-questions-about-stonehenge-tunnels-future-29-10-2021/).



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