Highways England said that it was committed to progressing the construction contracts process for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down upgrade despite losing a High Court challenge last week.
Mr Justice Holgate upheld two of the 10 complaints lodged by the campaign group Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site and quashed the development consent order (DCO) that the transport secretary granted last November. Grant Shapps approved the DCO despite the Planning Inspectorate having recommended against it.
Following the High Court ruling, Highways England said that it remained “confident our project is the best solution to the ongoing issues along the A303 past Stonehenge”.
It says that plans for early works and archaeological fieldwork have now been paused but it will be “working to advance the procurement process in the coming months”.
Three bids have now been submitted for the tunnel and main works contract and the preferred bidder is expected to be announced in early 2022. The shortlisted bidders are:
- BMJV, comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics and J Murphy & Sons
- HDJV, consisting of Hochtief Infrastructure GmbH and Dragados
- MORE JV, comprising FCC Construcción (42.5%), Salini Impregilo (42.5%) and BeMo Tunnelling UK (15%).
Highways England is also contain to procure a delivery assurance partner to support in managing the delivery of the A303 Stonehenge main works contract. The tender notice was published in June. It is anticipated that this £60m contract will still be awarded towards the end of the year.
David Bullock, Highways England’s project manager for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said: “We have to wait while the Department for Transport considers its options, and in the meantime we are continuing with the process to appoint a contractor for the main works phase of the scheme. We have now paused our plans to carry out early, preparatory work, but the procurement process is very much live, to ensure we maintain programme timescales as best as possible.
“We still believe our project is the best solution to the ongoing issues along the A303 past Stonehenge, it has been developed after a long and extensive collaboration with our key stakeholders, and we are still very much motivated to leave a legacy beyond the road – for Stonehenge, the World Heritage Site, our local communities and future generations.”
Archaeological fieldwork and preliminary works had been scheduled to start later this summer, while a temporary, three-month closure of the A360 to enable utilities work – earmarked to start in September – has also been postponed.
Mr Bullock added: “In terms of our initial work, we plan to update local communities via a virtual public information event when we know a little more, and in the interim we are continuing to communicate our plans with all stakeholders and interested parties.”
Elsewhere along the A303, Highways England will also be starting work in September to dual a further single lane section between Sparkford and Ilchester. The scheme, further west on the A303 in Somerset, will provide a three-mile dual carriageway link, including new and replacement slip roads, junctions and road bridges to replace existing junctions and direct access roads.