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Back to nature

The A3 Hindhead Tunnel removed a major source of congestion through the village of Hindhead and the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a dramatic natural amphitheatre and renowned beauty spot in the Surrey Hills – a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, special protection area for birds and a site of special scientific interest.

Project A3 Hindhead tunnel, Surrey, England

Client Highways England

Expertise Environmental statement, ecological surveys, engineering design, construction supervision

It is also home to protected mammals and reptiles. The project would not have received planning permission without substantial environmental mitigation measures. The quality of our mitigation plans secured support from Natural England at public inquiry.

Site preparation was staggered so fauna could migrate to neighbouring woodland and crossing routes for animals, such as dormice and badgers were installed. Extensive landscaping included replanting of local woodland, a green footbridge and vegetated slope finishes. The old A3 was removed and the area restored to heathland, reuniting the Devil's Punch Bowl with Hindhead Common for the first time in almost 200 years.

An environmental monitoring regime has verified the effectiveness of the project’s mitigation measures, which have ensured the long-term wellbeing of the flora and fauna that inhabit this exceptional natural environment.

Traffic congestion reduced air quality in Hindhead. The air is now cleaner, benefiting those at risk from respiratory ailments. The considerable noise impacts of traffic have also been removed, which led the National Trust general manager for the Surrey Hills to comment: “The moment the traffic went underground, you could hear yourself think for the first time in 180 years.”


total savings

Ground conditions would have suited excavation by tunnel boring machine (TBM). But a road tunnel only needs a horseshoe-shaped cross section with a flat invert rather than the cylindrical tunnel formed by a TBM, so the tunnel was sequentially excavated. This delivered savings on TBM procurement of around £15M, cut the volume of excavated material by 20% and reduced construction time by six months.

The project supports positive economic, social and environmental links between the urban centres of London, Guildford and Portsmouth, and rural communities located in the Surrey Hills and South Downs. Substantial investment was made in the preservation, protection and conservation of natural heritage, and access to the green spaces of the Devil’s Punch Bowl and Hindhead Common has been greatly improved.

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