THE Government has confirmed it will go ahead with a 1.8 mile road tunnel near Stonehenge.

The A303 is often gridlocked near the landmark, causing frustration for holidaymakers travelling to and from the South West and disrupting visits to the site.

Government heritage agency Historic England, and the National Trust and English Heritage, who manage the stone circle and its surrounding landscape, welcomed the announcement.

However Time Team presenter Tony Robinson has attacked the Government's describing the project as "the most brutal intrusion into the Stone Age landscape ever" and accused the Department for Transport (DfT) of paying "no attention at all" to the importance of the Wiltshire monument.

This year's summer holiday getaway once again produced severe delays with an hour added to the nearly three-hour trip from west London to Exeter, according to the AA.

The road is to be put into a dual carriageway tunnel with a £1.6 billion upgrade by Highways England.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "This Government is taking the big decisions for Britain's future and this major investment in the South West will provide a huge boost for the region.

"Quicker journey times, reduced congestion and cleaner air will benefit people locally and unlock growth in the tourism industry."

The tunnel will closely follow the existing A303 route but will be a further 50 metres from the monument.

DfT officials claim it will avoid important archaeological sites and will not intrude into the view of the setting sun from Stonehenge during the winter solstice.

Thousands of individuals and organisations responded to a public consultation on the plans earlier this year.

Opponents are concerned the scheme, with a tunnel past the stones that would emerge within the World Heritage Site and a bypass to the north nearby Winterbourne Stoke, will damage the wider archaeology and environment.

Robinson told the Press Association he had been "pretty sure" the plan was going to be rejected as the arguments against it were "coherent and unanswerable".

He said: "Archaeologists have understood over the last 10 to 15 years that Stonehenge isn't a monument, Stonehenge is a landscape.

"Unesco understood that, which is why they made the area into a World Heritage Site.

"What's happened is that the Department for Transport is literally driving a thousand coaches and horses through the World Heritage Site.

"It's an absolute disgrace and I feel quite sick because of it."

Highways England chief executive Jim O'Sullivan said the A303 has suffered from congestion for many years and the scheme will "enhance, protect and restore tranquillity" to Stonehenge.

David Bullock, who is managing the project for the organisation, said: "We're looking at a route that provides a sympathetic path through the archaeology and landscape. We're doing lots and lots of investigating."

In March, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) UK, which advises United Nations cultural body Unesco, said it "firmly objected" to the proposals.

Important criteria had not been met, including ensuring the tunnel was long enough that its entrances did not harm the World Heritage Site and adequately considering options for constructing a bypass outside the 10 square mile protected area, Icomos said.

Following Mr Grayling's announcement, Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage said in a joint statement: "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reunite this ancient landscape which is currently severed by a huge volume of road traffic.

"We welcome the amended route and believe it can, if designed and located with the utmost care, deliver a lasting legacy for the World Heritage Site and restore peace and tranquillity to the Stonehenge landscape."