BORIS JOHNSON’S proposed bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland could be scrapped in favour of a tunnel in the Irish Sea, a Conservative Party cabinet minister has revealed.
According to Scottish secretary Alister Jack both he and the prime minister are “on the same page” about a tunnel connecting Portpatrick in Scotland with Larne in Northern Ireland.
Mr Jack told MSPs a tunnel represents a viable solution to the previous problem posed by a Second World War munitions dump at Beaufort’s Dyke in the Irish Sea, which had been cited as a potential hindrance to the construction of any bridge.
Experts previously expressed reservations about any bridge’s feasibility given that it would be required to be built through a stormy stretch of water that is more than 1000ft deep in places and also home to more than a million tonnes of wartime munitions.
Speaking to a Holyrood Committee, however, Mr Jack moved to allay such concerns or the project with an idea of his own.
“I’m very keen on it now, but it’s not a bridge that I’m keen on, it’s a tunnel,” he said.
“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.”
The Scottish secretary went on to explain to journalists that the crossing would span 20 miles and would most likely be made up of sections of both bridge and tunnel.
He added: “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 Johnson has already ordered officials to assess the feasibility of a multi-billion-pound bridge plan.
An official spokesperson told the Independent: “The prime minister is passionate about improving connectivity across the UK and work is being carried out to look at this project.
“The PM has been clear that we should be ambitious in our plans for infrastructure across the country and we are looking at a wide range of schemes that could boost connectivity.”