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Stonehenge scheme review after costs hit £470m

The Government has ordered a review of the A303 Stonehenge scheme after ground conditions forced costs to spiral to £470 million.
Costain and Balfour Beatty are the main contractors on the scheme, which includes a 2.1 km tunnel under the ancient monument.

Costs have rocketed from the Highways Agency's £284 million estimate when draft orders for the scheme were published in 2003.

The increase is due to very large quantities of soft, weak chalk and a high water table, with the groundwater potentially rising to the surface at times of heavy rainfall. These factors would significantly complicate the tunnelling process and extend the overall construction period of the scheme.

Roads minister Stephen Ladyman said: 'Given the scale of the cost increase we have to re-examine whether the scheme still represents value for money and if it remains the best option for delivering the desired improvements.'

The Government plans to carry out a detailed review consulting English Heritage and the National Trust, before taking a final decision. The review will also consider the implications of delaying the Stonehenge scheme for the delivery of improvements proposed for other single carriageway sections of the A303 further to the west.

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