Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing ahead with controversial plans for a bridge or tunnel across the Irish Sea, according to a report on the BBC News website. An official study into the feasibility of the link has been recommended by transport expert Sir Peter Hendy, after a preliminary investigation.
The study will be undertaken by two engineering professors, Douglas Oakervee, a former chairman of HS2 and Crossrail, and Gordon Masterson, a former vice-president of Jacobs Engineering. They will consider whether the link is technically viable, and provide an estimated cost and timetable for the works.
The idea has been suggested at various points in the past, even up to a hundred years ago. The current favoured routes for the link are from Portpatrick in south west Scotland to Larne, NI, or near Campbelltown in Argyll and Bute to the Antrim coast. However, the idea has met strong opposition from parties on both sides of the border.
Stormont’s Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said the review “represents a gross breach of trust and is all about meeting Tory manifesto pledges”. Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill said it was a “pipe dream bridge”, which was being used as a distraction from the problems created by Brexit.
Scottish Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood also took a negative view of the proposals, calling it a “fantasy bridge”, and that the money should be spent on improving the road and rail networks. Experts have said that a bridge could cost up to £20 billion at a conservative estimate.
If a bridge were to be built from Portpatrick, it would be over 20 miles long. However, this would not make it the longest overwater bridge in the world. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge spans about 30 miles over water, while the Hangzhou Bay Bridge is the longest sea bridge, at 22.4 miles.
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