BORIS JOHNSON’S proposed plans for a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland have been branded a waste of “significant money” by Scotland’s Transport Secretary.
Writing in a letter to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Michael Matheson urged the UK government to consider spending the estimated £20 billion required to build the bridge elsewhere.
He hit out at Mr Johnson’s idea for a 20-mile bridge between Portpatrick in South west Scotland and Larne in Northern Ireland as a “vanity project” and one that would “waste significant money”.
The letter comes in the wake of the news that a feasibility study has been ordered by Mr Johnson to see whether the plan is one the UK government can realistically move forward with as it looks for solutions to any potential border issue involving Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Mr Matheson writes: "In both Northern Ireland and Scotland, budget constraints from successive UK Governments, have for a number of years restricted necessary investment in public transport and vital infrastructure and held back progress for our communities."
He adds: "I strongly believe that if £20 billion is available for investment in infrastructure in Scotland and Northern Ireland that rather than indulging the Prime Minister with this vanity project,such funding should be made available to our respective governments so it could be better spent on meeting the priorities of the people we represent."
The Transport Secretary goes on to highlight the fact that a number of viable proposals are already “on the table” and would benefit from this kind of funding.
He also expressed concerns about a reported "munitions dump" at Beaufort's Dyke in the North Channel, which is on the path of construction for the proposed bridge between the two countries.
Mr Matheson writes: "I am concerned that pursuit of this in light of the already identified technical, logistical and safety challenges such as the Beaufort’s Dyke munitions dump could waste significant money and resource that could be put to better use on practical, deliverable projects.”