Scheme still waiting on transport secretary’s approval

A joint venture of Costain and Mott MacDonald has been awarded £60m worth of work on the controversial Stonehenge Tunnel scheme.

National Highways appointed the JV as delivery assurance partner on the A303 Stonehenge (Amesbury to Berwick Down) Improvements Scheme, a role which will see the two provide construction management expertise.

The pair were told at the end of last week and among the firms understood to have been pipped include WSP, Jacobs and Turner & Townsend.


The initial approval for the Stonehenge Tunnel scheme was struck down by a High Court Judge last year

The new transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has yet to give the scheme final approval, with the initial decision to grant a development consent order quashed last year.

The road improvement scheme, part of the government’s national road investment strategy, includes a 3.3km-long tunnel underneath the Wiltshire monument, which is intended to remove traffic from a large part of the world heritage site.

But campaigners claim the site would be detrimentally affected by the plans and the transport secretary must prove that alternatives have been seriously considered before granting approval again, after a High Court Judge ruled the first decision unlawful.

In May, National Highways announced its preferred bidders for the contract – the joint venture MORE, which is comprised of Spanish firm FCC, Italy’s WeBuild and BeMo Tunnelling from Austria.

A design partnership composed of Atkins, Jacobs and Spanish company Sener was also named as part of the project team.

Sue Kershaw, managing director for transportation at Costain, said the award demonstrated “the calibre of Costain’s growing consultancy expertise”, while Ken Norbury, transportation managing director at Mott MacDonald, insisted the project would “enhance the World Heritage Site and its surrounding environment”.

A Costain team featuring Balfour Beatty was down to build the new road more than 15 years ago but the pair’s contract was terminated in December 2007 when those proposals were withdrawn by the then government.