Campaigners have taken the first steps towards launching a legal challenge over plans for a tunnel near Stonehenge. 

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site has said in a letter to the government calling the A303 project a "highly flawed and damaging proposal". 

Salisbury Journal: Stonehenge

SSWHS is sending a pre-application protocol letter outlining its concerns about the decision.

This is a precursor to filing a claim for judicial review which must be made within six weeks of the decision date.

Read more: Stonehenge Alliance condemns tunnel plans

A director at SSWHS Chris Todd, said: “The Government has stuck two fingers up at UNESCO and all those who care about our British heritage.

“It has basically approved this highly flawed and damaging proposal for a second time. The same scheme was thrown out in 2021. We believe there are strong grounds why this approval should also be struck down. We will do everything within our power to safeguard this most iconic of sites for future generations.”

The Government’s approval is in direct opposition to UNESCO’s refusal of the scheme and to five of the Government’s own independent planning inspectors. There has also been criticism for not having assessed the alternatives to the National Highway’s proposals.

Read more: Reaction to Stonehenge tunnel approval

Member of the Stonehenge Alliance, Suzanne Keene, a separate organisation that has campaigned to safeguard Stonehenge for over 20 years said: “Stonehenge World Heritage Site is much more than the stones at its centre.

“It is a complex and hugely rich archaeological landscape without comparison. For the Government to be so dismissive of the huge damage that the National Highways scheme will cause is deeply worrying.”

Read more: Sites that could be affected by the tunnel

Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith said: “There is an unfortunate sense of déjà vu. It appears that, yet again, the Government has ignored warnings that this road scheme will put at risk the world heritage status of Stonehenge.

“Despite calls by the World Heritage Committee for the decision to be delayed until it had met, the Secretary of State went ahead and reinstated development consent, without holding another public examination.

“It will be argued that this unfairness, combined with a failure to properly assess the scheme’s climate change impact, rendered the Secretary of State’s decision unlawful for a second time. If the Government, following correspondence, refuses to accept that, then our client intends to launch another claim for judicial review.”

The Government should respond to the SWHS within two weeks and the organisation will then have two weeks in which to file a claim. A crowdfunder has been launched on the Crowd Justice website to fund legal action.