Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by RichardA35 » Tue Aug 03, 2021 16:36

jackal wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 15:06
Letter from DfT requesting info and with some details of the redetermination process for the A38 Derby Junctions scheme:

https://infrastructure.planninginspecto ... letter.pdf

I imagine it will be similar for Stonehenge as the procedural failings in the two cases were similar (SoS made determination on basis of inadequate information).
I am in agreement with what you have been saying over the last few pages and agree that the failing was apparently procedural and the SoS should be able to redetermine taking account of information they didn't refer to previously.

However, and happy to be corrected if wrong, I've spent a wasted hour or two reading the Scheme Assessment Report and the judgement. It would appear from my skimming that the crux of the issue is that assessment of the tunnel did not appraise options of different lengths/arrangements against the harm to heritage assets. So, again, if I am reading this correctly, yes, the SoS has to update their decision letter to bring about a lawful determination but, in order to do that, I think it is a bit more than just "reading the ES" and there will have to be some further work on appraisals carried out by the designers to look at the varying assessments of harm to the heritage assets of varying tunnel lengths/arrangements at the western portal.
Once this is done the SoS can remake their determination and update their decision letter. If however the options perform better than the current scheme against heritage, there will be another difficult choice to be made about affordability balanced against harm to the WHS.

I do certainly agree that there is no requirement to update the design to a longer tunnel imposed by the judgement and with a following wind the appraisals could all be done and the letter reissued by Christmas.

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by jackal » Tue Aug 03, 2021 17:03

^ Thanks for that. We do differ a little on what is now required.

From what I can see the judge had no complaint with HE's work appraising alternatives, nor with their consideration of heritage assets. The problems entirely derived from the fact that the SoS was unfamiliar with the work HE had done, as summarized in the ES. As an example HE said there were actually environmental and heritage problems with extending the tunnel (more spoil to deal with, intrusive ventilation requirements, etc), which the judge did not dispute, but he pointed out that the SoS couldn't know about this as he didn't read the ES and it wasn't included in the Examining Authority's report (which he did read). So it's not even that the SoS had one-sided evidence before him - he was just generally uninformed, including about points that would give further support to his decision.

In practice DfT will issue a call for information, as they have for the A38 scheme - things could have come to light as a result of surveys, for instance. HE will likely confirm their previous assessment of impacts on heritage assets and the merit of alternatives, with updated costings etc. But they don't really need to do anything differently as the problem wasn't on their end.

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Phil » Tue Aug 03, 2021 17:29

Herned wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 23:01
fras wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 22:48
Just so we all know, how much longer would the tunnel need to be to go under the whole of the WHS at Stonehenge ?
Anybody.........?
The WHS runs from the Countess roundabout to the A360, about 5.5km in a straight line. The tunnel plan is for 2.8km, so twice the length and then some.
True, but the key stakeholders have basically accepted the proposed eastern portal of the tunnel as doing minimal harm even though it is within the WHS.

The question therefore is actually how much longer would the tunnel need to be at the western end to gain a similar level of acceptance. Publicly the two main stakeholders (which the SST ignored and thus got the DCO quashed by the courts as a result) say it should be moved outside the WHS boundary. Whether they would be able to be persuaded with a longer tunnel than the DfT have been willing to provide so far, but which still has its western portal within the WHS is one of the things that will need to be investigated further.

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Scratchwood » Tue Aug 03, 2021 19:05

ForestChav wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 22:55
So I've been to both Stonehenge and Avebury today, might pop a few pics up in a few days when I've had chance to look at them properly... but

IMO it's clear that both the A4361 and A303 do ruin the sites by passing through/by them. In reality, the A4361 is less of an issue because the stone circle is much bigger at Avebury, and was presumably evolved that way, including both the B4003 and A4361 passing through. And the A4361 is busy, but a lot less so than the A303 is.

The whole time at Stonehenge around the monument you could hear constant traffic noise and no doubt the pollution, the road is an obvious visual scar on the landscape for some distance. Online dualling is clearly not an option, a tunnel will do provided it didn't have any adverse effects on the geology and that a bypass taking it out of the WHS, which extends with ancient artefacts for some distance, didn't compromise that or the journey. I think the tunnel option is probably preferable really. With Avebury you could no doubt bypass the place with a S2 to the NW and not cause any major issues.

Now, if they just installed a travelator for that 2 mile walk between the new car park and the stones...
Taking Avebury, it does feel that trying to solve the problem would just raise objections akin to those of Stonehenge

Any route bypassing Avebury would have to go so far round to avoid any ancient burial grounds, monuments and trails, that it would end up unused, especially as unlike Stonehenge Avebury is a village with houses, a church, pub etc so it's not as if the roads through it could be shut off

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by RichardA35 » Tue Aug 03, 2021 19:34

jackal wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 17:03
^ Thanks for that. We do differ a little on what is now required.

From what I can see the judge had no complaint with HE's work appraising alternatives, nor with their consideration of heritage assets. The problems entirely derived from the fact that the SoS was unfamiliar with the work HE had done, as summarized in the ES. As an example HE said there were actually environmental and heritage problems with extending the tunnel (more spoil to deal with, intrusive ventilation requirements, etc), which the judge did not dispute, but he pointed out that the SoS couldn't know about this as he didn't read the ES and it wasn't included in the Examining Authority's report (which he did read). So it's not even that the SoS had one-sided evidence before him - he was just generally uninformed, including about points that would give further support to his decision.

In practice DfT will issue a call for information, as they have for the A38 scheme - things could have come to light as a result of surveys, for instance. HE will likely confirm their previous assessment of impacts on heritage assets and the merit of alternatives, with updated costings etc. But they don't really need to do anything differently as the problem wasn't on their end.
Without wishing to split hairs too much as we're pretty much on the same page, I've had a scan through Chapters 3 & 6 of the ES (Assessment of Alternatives and Heritage) and I struggled to find a specific assessment of the alternative tunnel arrangements against heritage assets but that the extended tunnel options were dismissed in one paragraph as:

"While both options would have heritage benefits with regard to the OUV of the WHS, they were both discounted on the grounds of a significant increase in scheme cost as well as an increase in construction period"

Hopefully the work was actually done and the assessment can be pulled out of a folder so the SoS can read it, copy it down and make his determination, or the designer will have to be mobilised to do this bit.

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by jackal » Tue Aug 03, 2021 20:30


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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by fras » Tue Aug 03, 2021 21:57

Herned wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 23:01
fras wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 22:48
Just so we all know, how much longer would the tunnel need to be to go under the whole of the WHS at Stonehenge ?
Anybody.........?
The WHS runs from the Countess roundabout to the A360, about 5.5km in a straight line. The tunnel plan is for 2.8km, so twice the length and then some.
But twice 2.8 = 5.6 km
Other thing is once you've bought the tunnel boring machine, it might as well bore for 5.5 kms as 2.8. Surely the extra cost is worth it ? Just look at the tunnels to be bored for HS2, they knock the A303 tunnel into a cocked hat ! When one thinks about all the road tunnels around Europe, this one is just a mouse hole ! What is wrong with us British ?

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by ForestChav » Tue Aug 03, 2021 22:18

Scratchwood wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 19:05
ForestChav wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 22:55
So I've been to both Stonehenge and Avebury today, might pop a few pics up in a few days when I've had chance to look at them properly... but

IMO it's clear that both the A4361 and A303 do ruin the sites by passing through/by them. In reality, the A4361 is less of an issue because the stone circle is much bigger at Avebury, and was presumably evolved that way, including both the B4003 and A4361 passing through. And the A4361 is busy, but a lot less so than the A303 is.

The whole time at Stonehenge around the monument you could hear constant traffic noise and no doubt the pollution, the road is an obvious visual scar on the landscape for some distance. Online dualling is clearly not an option, a tunnel will do provided it didn't have any adverse effects on the geology and that a bypass taking it out of the WHS, which extends with ancient artefacts for some distance, didn't compromise that or the journey. I think the tunnel option is probably preferable really. With Avebury you could no doubt bypass the place with a S2 to the NW and not cause any major issues.

Now, if they just installed a travelator for that 2 mile walk between the new car park and the stones...
Taking Avebury, it does feel that trying to solve the problem would just raise objections akin to those of Stonehenge

Any route bypassing Avebury would have to go so far round to avoid any ancient burial grounds, monuments and trails, that it would end up unused, especially as unlike Stonehenge Avebury is a village with houses, a church, pub etc so it's not as if the roads through it could be shut off
It'd benefit the stones and the pub/shops though not to have the A4361 through, but yes, it is a totally different proposition, suppose it has evolved to have the roads running through it and whilst Stonehenge doesn't and probably didn't... You'd probably need to bypass some way out, but then, you could maybe move the car parking to the outside too, and have maybe 1 way in for traffic, which would improve things. It's not totally surrounded in monuments and stuff.
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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Herned » Tue Aug 03, 2021 22:41

fras wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 21:57
But twice 2.8 = 5.6 km
Other thing is once you've bought the tunnel boring machine, it might as well bore for 5.5 kms as 2.8. Surely the extra cost is worth it ? Just look at the tunnels to be bored for HS2, they knock the A303 tunnel into a cocked hat ! When one thinks about all the road tunnels around Europe, this one is just a mouse hole ! What is wrong with us British ?
The tunnel wouldn't be straight and it isn't likely to be exactly from one boundary of the site to the other... but the important reason, apart from cost, is ventilation. A longer tunnel needs either a mid tunnel vent (bang in the middle of the WHS), or a much, much more expensive system, which increases initial cost and ongoing running costs. Its all in the appraisal documents somewhere

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Phil » Wed Aug 04, 2021 01:11

Herned wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 22:41
fras wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 21:57
But twice 2.8 = 5.6 km
Other thing is once you've bought the tunnel boring machine, it might as well bore for 5.5 kms as 2.8. Surely the extra cost is worth it ? Just look at the tunnels to be bored for HS2, they knock the A303 tunnel into a cocked hat ! When one thinks about all the road tunnels around Europe, this one is just a mouse hole ! What is wrong with us British ?
The tunnel wouldn't be straight and it isn't likely to be exactly from one boundary of the site to the other... but the important reason, apart from cost, is ventilation. A longer tunnel needs either a mid tunnel vent (bang in the middle of the WHS), or a much, much more expensive system, which increases initial cost and ongoing running costs. Its all in the appraisal documents somewhere
In other words its all just the cost / money.

Do not confuse matters - providing the necessary ventilation without a mid vent shaft is not new, novel or some sort of physical impossibility. The only thing about such a system is its more expensive to install and run. Hardly a surprise there - you buy a house in a more upmarket area or buy a bigger car then its going to cost more.

As Bryn has pointed out up thread, doing Twyford Down on the cheap ( i.e. a stonking great cutting rather than a tunnel of some description which many were pushing for at the time) moved anti-road protests away from the environmental fringe into mainstream making further road construction politically unpopular and a vote loser amongst the ordinary middle classes who up to that point would normally have been considered (from a political perspective) reliable supporters of rural road construction.

THAT is the spectre which the SST and indeed others on here who claim its merely a procedural problem seem to have great difficulty getting their heads round. Get this one wrong in the eyes of the public and any hopes for further road construction in sensitive areas - like say an improved Sheffield - Manchester route will be dashed forever.

In an age where the state of the environment and humans impact on the planet is widely recognised as having been pretty abysmal in the past we owe it to future generations to do not just the bare minimum - but should be showing we really have learnt the lessons of the past. Get it right and there is the chance of saying 'see we have learnt from the past and can be trusted in future'.

As I keep having to say to an awful lot of people these days Money is not the be all and end all of everything! Modern political and economic models may lie and claim it is by promoting low taxes, cheap prices, consumer is king, etc but in truth they are NOT things to be celebrated or be proud of. Paying more to get a quality end product is far better for our planet and indeed society as a whole than the selfish attitude of paying the minimum possible for everything. Roads are no exception....

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Micro The Maniac » Wed Aug 04, 2021 07:58

Bryn666 wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 09:31
It has occurred to people that using summer 2020 and 2021 as evidence for doing things is going to be a shaky foundation at best - last summer there was barely any traffic and this summer everyone has had their holidays in the UK, right?
Tell that to my local council... they're arguing that the 50 on the A331 "for environmental reasons" has been an absolute success.

It was imposed in June 2019... and amazingly the year-on-year figures 2019/20 show a significant reduction in emissions. Equally amazing, there have been no queues at the M3/J4 roundabout, either.

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Micro The Maniac » Wed Aug 04, 2021 08:05

RichardA35 wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 16:36
It would appear from my skimming that the crux of the issue is that assessment of the tunnel did not appraise options of different lengths/arrangements against the harm to heritage assets. So, again, if I am reading this correctly, yes, the SoS has to update their decision letter to bring about a lawful determination but, in order to do that, I think it is a bit more than just "reading the ES" and there will have to be some further work on appraisals carried out by the designers to look at the varying assessments of harm to the heritage assets of varying tunnel lengths/arrangements at the western portal.
This is where I get a bit confused by the system

HE employ/engage consultants and design agencies - in theory the experts - to design the job. A report then goes to the SoS for sign-off.

In no way could the SoS be considered a suitably qualified or experienced person to be making any technical decisions... they are just the figurehead, the final sign-off, who makes the political decision. That decision, surely, should be based on the information provided - I would be more concerned if the SoS started to make any changes.

As such, if there is an inadequacy in the decision-making process, then surely it is down to those who have not provided the full information, to enable a proper decision to be made?

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Herned » Wed Aug 04, 2021 08:40

Phil wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 01:11
Do not confuse matters - providing the necessary ventilation without a mid vent shaft is not new, novel or some sort of physical impossibility. The only thing about such a system is its more expensive to install and run. Hardly a surprise there - you buy a house in a more upmarket area or buy a bigger car then its going to cost more.
The point about a mid tunnel vent is that it would be right in the middle of the site and completely undesirable.

I don't see how it can be argued that this is being done on the cheap, without the WHS the road could easily be dualled broadly online - the tunnel is entirely to protect the heritage and remove the road from the landscape. I would be interested to see what public opinion thought about spending another £500m to protect a few hundred metres of open field.

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by RichardA35 » Wed Aug 04, 2021 09:31

Micro The Maniac wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 08:05
RichardA35 wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 16:36
It would appear from my skimming that the crux of the issue is that assessment of the tunnel did not appraise options of different lengths/arrangements against the harm to heritage assets. So, again, if I am reading this correctly, yes, the SoS has to update their decision letter to bring about a lawful determination but, in order to do that, I think it is a bit more than just "reading the ES" and there will have to be some further work on appraisals carried out by the designers to look at the varying assessments of harm to the heritage assets of varying tunnel lengths/arrangements at the western portal.
This is where I get a bit confused by the system

HE employ/engage consultants and design agencies - in theory the experts - to design the job. A report then goes to the SoS for sign-off.

In no way could the SoS be considered a suitably qualified or experienced person to be making any technical decisions... they are just the figurehead, the final sign-off, who makes the political decision. That decision, surely, should be based on the information provided - I would be more concerned if the SoS started to make any changes.

As such, if there is an inadequacy in the decision-making process, then surely it is down to those who have not provided the full information, to enable a proper decision to be made?
The SoS assumes a quasi judicial role to determine a scheme like this and has to put aside political issues. In reality it will be civil servants and lawyers within DfT who will study the information and the Examination evidence and report, then deliberate, determine and write the decision letter for SoS to sign.

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Bryn666 » Wed Aug 04, 2021 10:25

Herned wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 08:40
Phil wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 01:11
Do not confuse matters - providing the necessary ventilation without a mid vent shaft is not new, novel or some sort of physical impossibility. The only thing about such a system is its more expensive to install and run. Hardly a surprise there - you buy a house in a more upmarket area or buy a bigger car then its going to cost more.
The point about a mid tunnel vent is that it would be right in the middle of the site and completely undesirable.

I don't see how it can be argued that this is being done on the cheap, without the WHS the road could easily be dualled broadly online - the tunnel is entirely to protect the heritage and remove the road from the landscape. I would be interested to see what public opinion thought about spending another £500m to protect a few hundred metres of open field.
It isn't just an open field though is it, there are potential archaeological finds that we currently don't have the technology or understanding to do anything with, but future generations will.

If there's a whacking great D2 there, then that is lost. But hey, it's only history, who gives a f*** when we can shift cars to Cornwall quicker.
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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by RichardA35 » Wed Aug 04, 2021 10:25

jackal wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 20:30
^
See 4-65 onwards here: https://infrastructure.planninginspecto ... (AL.1).pdf
Thanks for that - I'm used to others getting the information for me :-)
It does look like the work was done at a reasonably high level, I suppose, equivalent to an "options selection" stage prior to "preferred route selection" but not as a detailed evaluation of options within the preferred route appraisal as the length of tunnel had effectively been fixed.

Hopefully this assessment will be sufficient to satisfy the SoS to update and redefine the determination. As others have alluded to, how DfT deal with this will probably be key. There would appear to be material reasons that were stated in the JR of balancing cost against heritage assets given the significant level of the effect on the WHS. I can see that the next stage of the argument will move to how much the planned destruction of archaeology within the WHS is worth and can we afford it as a nation.

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Herned » Wed Aug 04, 2021 10:44

Bryn666 wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 10:25
If there's a whacking great D2 there, then that is lost. But hey, it's only history, who gives a f*** when we can shift cars to Cornwall quicker.
Why do you keep going on about it being to do with Cornwall? I would be astonished if more than 5% of the annual traffic was going to Cornwall.

The WHS site boundaries are mainly, very conveniently, modern roads, which seems a bit arbitrary to me, how do we know that there isn't some amazing discovery west of the A360? We just don't know. Should we wait for the technology to develop?

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Bryn666 » Wed Aug 04, 2021 11:24

Herned wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 10:44
Bryn666 wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 10:25
If there's a whacking great D2 there, then that is lost. But hey, it's only history, who gives a f*** when we can shift cars to Cornwall quicker.
Why do you keep going on about it being to do with Cornwall? I would be astonished if more than 5% of the annual traffic was going to Cornwall.

The WHS site boundaries are mainly, very conveniently, modern roads, which seems a bit arbitrary to me, how do we know that there isn't some amazing discovery west of the A360? We just don't know. Should we wait for the technology to develop?
The boundaries have been chosen on the basis that they believe that area contains the most historical interest.

Why do I keep going on about Cornwall? Because the attitude of posters on this forum is that as long as a journey time is sped up, who gives a toss about the wider effects of the road. If spending £1.5bn preserves both the aspirations of the WHS and solves the A303, we should do it.

People seem happy to slam this road through one of the most significant sites in the country without any kind of tunnel, yet when it comes to actual empty fields having HS2 put through them we have to have a 10 mile tunnel. As Phil has said, funny what Tory voters treat as a priority.
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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by Vierwielen » Wed Aug 04, 2021 16:40

Bryn666 wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 11:24
Why do I keep going on about Cornwall? Because the attitude of posters on this forum is that as long as a journey time is sped up, who gives a toss about the wider effects of the road. If spending £1.5bn preserves both the aspirations of the WHS and solves the A303, we should do it.

People seem happy to slam this road through one of the most significant sites in the country without any kind of tunnel, yet when it comes to actual empty fields having HS2 put through them we have to have a 10 mile tunnel. As Phil has said, funny what Tory voters treat as a priority.
As far as I can recall, the A303 was routed past Stonehenge many years ago and it has been "improved" by stealth. On the other hand, HS2 is a totally new line.

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Re: Stonehenge - The bored tunnel option

Post by A320Driver » Wed Aug 04, 2021 17:50

Herned wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 10:44
Bryn666 wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 10:25
If there's a whacking great D2 there, then that is lost. But hey, it's only history, who gives a f*** when we can shift cars to Cornwall quicker.
Why do you keep going on about it being to do with Cornwall? I would be astonished if more than 5% of the annual traffic was going to Cornwall.
Indeed, we get your point but please stop banging on about it, it’s tedious, and an offence to anyone who lives or works south of the A303 and west of Salisbury, as the road is the main link to the south east.
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