Stonehenge tunnel builders shortlisted

24 March 2020

Highways England – the UK Government-owned company charged with maintaining England’s roads – has shortlisted three teams to undertake its €1.8 billion Stonehenge tunnel project.

The work will include a new 13km bypass and a 3.2km tunnel to run directly beneath the World Heritage Site in the county of Wiltshire.

The three groups invited to bid for the contract are:

BMJV, comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics and J Murphy & Sons;

HDJV, consisting of Hochtief Infrastructure and Dragados;

MORE JV, comprising FCC Construccion (42.5%), Salini Impregilo (42.5%) and BeMo Tunnelling UK (15%).

Highways England project director Derek Parody said: “We’re looking forward to entering into a competitive procurement process with some of the world’s most highly regarded construction companies, subject, of course, to planning consent being granted.”

Given the current situation, with the anticipated effect of the Covid-19 virus on the UK economy, the business case for the project will be called into question, as it was early in 2019.

Months before the outbreak in China, the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) publicly stated that it was not convinced the Stonehenge project offered value for money. Amya Morse, then head of the NAO, said, “The tunnel at Stonehenge is only just value for money by the department’s [Department for Transport’s] own business case,” adding, “It will take a very special effort by the department to protect public value up to completion”.

The UK’s Planning Inspectorate has sent its report and recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport, but a decision on the project is not expected until after the lifting of the government’s current coronavirus measures.

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