Boris Johnson’s bridge to Northern Ireland could be a TUNNEL: Scottish Secretary Alister Jack says PM now wants an underground link between mainland Britain and the province
- Boris Johnson has praised the idea of a bridge that would link NI and Scotland
- Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the link could actually end up as a tunnel
- He said the PM agreed and an underground connection is likely to be cheaper
Boris Johnson’s planned bridge to Northern Ireland could end up being a tunnel, the Scottish Secretary said today.
Alister Jack said the PM agreed with him that an underground link could be cheaper and avoid problems such as the huge Second World War munitions dump in the Irish Sea.
Mr Johnson has previously extolled the virtues of a bridge, ordering the idea to be seriously investigated by government officials.
He insists the multi-billion pound scheme, potentially running for 20 miles between Portpatrick and Larne, would help strengthen the bonds between parts of the UK.
Speaking during an evidence session in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Jack said he was convinced the project would bring economic benefits for Scotland and the province.
Mr Jack said: ‘I’m very keen on it now, but it’s not a bridge that I’m keen on, it’s a tunnel.
Boris Johnson has previously extolled the virtues of a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland, ordering the idea to be seriously investigated by government officials
Alister Jack (pictured on a visit to Scotland today) said the PM agreed with him that underground link could be cheaper and avoid problems such as the huge Second World War munitions dump in the Irish Sea
The Ministry of Defence estimates there are a million tons of munitions at the bottom of a deep trench at Beaufort’s Dyke
‘It’s no different to the tunnels connecting the Faroes, it’s not different to the tunnels underneath the fjords, and it deals with the problem of Beaufort’s Dyke and the World War Two munitions.
‘The bridge for me is a euphemism for a link, which is a tunnel.’
Expanding on his views to reporters afterwards, Mr Jack said it could be the case that a crossing is made up of sections of both bridge and tunnel.
He added: ‘But I think the best solution if we’re going to bridge Scotland with Northern Ireland is a tunnel, and I’ve had conversations along those lines with the Prime Minister.’
Mr Jack also said he and the PM are ‘on exactly the same page’ when it comes to the idea of an underwater crossing.
He said he had been told by a number of engineers that a tunnel would cost less than a bridge.
Mr Jack described the plans as being in the ‘discussion phase’, and it would be for the Prime Minister to ‘push the button’ and move forward with a full feasibility study to test if the proposals are possible.
When the initial plans were made public, the Scottish and Northern Irish transport secretaries wrote to the Prime Minister and called for the estimated £20billion cost to instead be given to the devolved administrations to improve infrastructure – a position First Minister Nicola Sturgeon agreed with.
Mr Jack refused to reveal any costings he had been quoted for the crossing, but did say it would be ‘quite achievable’ to have the tunnel built by 2030, adding: ‘Since the Channel Tunnel, costs have come down and techniques have improved dramatically.
‘The problem is not about whether or not it’s feasible, it’s about how quickly you do it… If you’re going to do it you should get on and do it.’
It is thought that one of the designs for the approximately 20-mile bridge would copy a link between Sweden and Denmark which featured in a hit ‘Scandi noir’ crime drama.
It would be modelled on the Oresund Bridge, which runs for five miles from the Swedish coast near Malmo to an artificial island in the middle of the Oresund Strait.
Mr Johnson (pictured on ITV’s This Morning) insists the multi-billion pound scheme, potentially running for 20 miles between Portpatrick and Larne, would help strengthen the bonds between parts of the UK
It then turns into a 2.5-mile tunnel to the Danish island of Amager, near Copenhagen.
The Oresund crossing was the setting for The Bridge, a popular BBC series starring Sofia Helin and Killing Eve actor Kim Bodnia as detectives investigating a gruesome murder.
At an estimated 20 miles, the UK bridge would still be dwarfed by the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge-tunnel system, which traverses 30 miles of water.
The structure spanning the greatest expanse of open sea is the 22.4-mile Hangzhou Bay Bridge in China.
The Ministry of Defence estimates there are a million tons of munitions at the bottom of a deep trench at Beaufort’s Dyke, including 14,500 tons of 5in artillery rockets filled with phosgene gas, in addition to two tons of concrete-encased metal drums filled with radioactive waste which was dumped there during the 1950s.
Source: Read Full Article