A303: Stonehenge

Department for Transport written question – answered at on 27 October 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 12 October (HL2847), what area of inalienable land vested in the National Trust following a national appeal for public subscriptions in 1927 would need to be acquired for constructing and operating the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down dual carriageway and tunnel across the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites UNESCO World Heritage Site; and what would be (1) the terms, and (2) the costs of such acquisition.

Photo of Baroness Vere of Norbiton Baroness Vere of Norbiton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Within the World Heritage Site, there is 41.62 hectares of inalienable land owned by the National Trust that is being acquired; 1.75 hectares subject to outright acquisition and 39.87 hectares subject to subsoil rights acquisition for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down scheme. The terms of the acquisition of inalienable National Trust land are the same as for all land interests and rights that are subject to Compulsory Acquisition.

If granted, the Development Consent Order (DCO) gives National Highways Compulsory Acquisition powers to purchase land that is required to build and maintain the scheme, which includes National Trust land declared as inalienable. The National Trust land will be acquired through the General Vesting Declaration (GVD) process, which would vest the required land or rights to National Highways, including subsoil rights to construct and maintain the Tunnel. Where National Highways are taking subsoil rights only, the amenity of the surface land above will remain, including the surface lands inalienability. This applies to 39.87 hectares.

Those rights and interests in land that are extinguished or changed through the above process, such as those belonging to The National Trust, would enable a right to compensation. This compensation would be negotiated and paid following the making of the GVD. A key principle of compensation is that of “equivalence”, meaning that a claimant should be placed in no better or worse position, financially, after the acquisition than they were before the acquisition. Therefore, until a time in which the land has vested through the GVD process and a claim received, it would be inappropriate to prejudice a live negotiation through speculating on potential costs.

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