A group in opposition to the government's recently approved plan to build a dual carriageway beneath the Stonehenge World Heritage Site has launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund a judicial review of the decision.
The group, Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site, said the £1.7 billion project would cause "massive and irreparable damage" to the archaeology and landscape in violation of the UK's international commitments to safeguard the site for future generations.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps gave the green light (November 12) for the A303 upgrade earlier this month. According to the Transport Secretary, the project will unlock congestion and transform journeys for millions of people using the A303 between the South East and the South West.
Highways England Chief Executive Jim O'Sullivan said the scheme was part of the largest investment in the road network for a generation and welcomed the decision.
He added: "This transformational scheme will return the Stonehenge landscape towards its original setting and will improve journey times for everyone who travels to and from the South West."
Dismissing the government's claims that the project will protect and enhance the heritage site as "spin", the group claimed "untold archaeological evidence would be destroyed and travellers' passing view of the Stones would be lost".
The group also argued there "would be serious impacts on the natural environment and an inevitable increase in carbon emissions".
Derek Parody, Highways England Project Director for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said the objective is to "conserve and enhance the World Heritage Site".
According to Parody, extensive archaeological studies and assessments were undertaken to provide evidence of the benefits that the scheme will deliver for the World Heritage Site.
The Transport Secretary's approval also followed a planning hearing that took place in 2019.
Cllr Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Highways, hailed the government's approval as a significant investment in the region.
Cllr Wayman said: "We're delighted that, after many years of planning and lobbying by our dedicated officers and members, consent has been granted for the A303 Stonehenge project.
"It represents a significant investment in Wiltshire that will boost the South West economy, unlocking jobs and investment throughout the entire region."
However, Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site questioned claims that the economic boost would be significant. According to the group, the scheme will "cost far more to build than it will ever deliver in benefits".
The group aims to raise an initial 25,000 by December 30 but said £50,000 would have to be raised in all to complete the judicial review process.
Their legal team, including law firm Leigh Day, have agreed to represent the group at a discount.