LEGAL action has been launched against the decision to build a tunnel past Stonehenge.

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site, a new organisation set up by The Stonehenge Alliance, has "instructed counsel and Leigh Day to investigate the lawfulness of the Secretary of State’s decision to approve the A303 Stonehenge dual carriageway".

A letter is being sent today (Friday, November 27) to the Department for Transport outlining its concerns.

Campaigners are also launching an appeal on CrowdJustice to raise £50,000 to cover the initial costs of the legal action, which will go live at 6am on Monday, November 30.

Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, announced the scheme had been given the green light on November 12.

The decision to build a two-mile (3.2km) tunnel out of sight of the monument goes against the recommendations of planning officials, but Grant Shapps said in his decision letter he is "satisfied that there is a clear need case for the development and considers that the benefits identified weigh significantly in favour of it".

The Stonehenge Alliance said it "deeply regrets a decision that will send shock messages around the world. It will breach UK’s international treaty obligation not to damage the WHS."

Tom Holland, Stonehenge Alliance President, expressed his backing for the legal action: “I fully back the move to test whether Grants Shapps acted legally in approving this highly wasteful and destructive road scheme. The Government has ignored advice from both UNESCO [6] and the independent panel who presided over a six-month examination.

"To have won the arguments based on reason and evidence, and then to have them overruled on a ministerial whim, shows just how broken the roads approval process is.

“I urge everyone who cares about the Stonehenge World Heritage Site to support this legal action. There is still a chance to stop the bulldozers moving in and vandalising our most precious and iconic prehistoric landscape."

Fieldwork is due to start in late spring next year, with the main five-year construction phase expected to start by 2023.