Backlash as Stonehenge Tunnel and Lower Thames Crossing top construction pipeline
The government has been accused of making a mockery of its own net zero carbon emissions targets by including billions of pounds worth of road contracts in its 10 year construction pipeline.
Transport campaigners have said that the government’s Build Back Better agenda is undermined by the prevalence of road schemes in the £650bn pipeline. In total, 12 road contracts worth £13.23bn are included in the pipeline.
The pipeline’s biggest four contracts by value also all relate to roads jobs. The two biggest contract opportunities are both worth £4bn. They are for the Lower Thames Crossing tunnels and approaches contract, and a National Highways "scheme delivery framework".
The main works contract for the Stonehenge Tunnel (£2bn) and the Lower Thames Crossing Northern Link roads contract (£2bn) are also among the biggest contract opportunities included in the pipeline.
In response, Transport Action Network founder Chris Todd hit out at the government’s continued efforts to build more roads across the country.
“The investment programme makes a mockery of the government’s own ambitions, not just on climate change but also on levelling up,” he told NCE.
“Both of these schemes [Stonehenge Tunnel and Lower Thames Crossing] and so much of the road investment strategy will benefit the South.”
The inclusion of the main works contract for the A303 scheme has also led to criticism in light of the recent High Court ruling which effectively quashed consent for the scheme.
A spokesperson for conservation group the Stonehenge Alliance labelled the government as “arrogant” for including the £2bn contract within its construction pipeline.
The spokesperson added: “With the consent for the A303 Stonehenge having been quashed in the High Court, any consideration of letting contracts in connection with building a new road in Stonehenge World Heritage Site seems both premature and arrogant.
“On heritage, climate and economic grounds, the road widening and tunnel make no sense and should be abandoned. Otherwise the Government risks wasting more public money in pursuit of this folly.”
Transport secretary Grant Shapps is currently “re-determining” the A303 application after a High Court judge ruled that the initial planning approval was unlawful.