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UK government display tunnel vision in Irish Sea bridge study

March 6 2020

UK government display tunnel vision in Irish Sea bridge study

The UK government has amended its vision for a £20bn bridge spanning the Irish Sea by promoting the concept of an all-weather tunnel instead as part of a hybrid bridge-tunnel vision.

The sub-sea solution would see the crossing dip below the ocean surface to enter a 22-mile long tunnel to escape the vagaries of wind and wave action while also reducing costs, amid concern that a single bridge solution would be too exposed to the elements.

A feasibility study will establish whether a link between Portpatrick near Stranraer to Larne, north of Belfast, is possible, assuming a variety of significant technical and funding challenges can be overcome, such as circumventing the 300m deep Beaufort’s Dyke.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack made the suggestion during a gathering of the Scottish Parliament’s culture, tourism, Europe and external affairs committee when he said: “It would be less expensive to tunnel it. It’s no different to the tunnels connecting the Faroe Islands, it’s no different to the tunnels going under the fjords.

“Once we get a better sight of the costs involved, should the prime minister decide to press the button, we would then want to engage with both [the Northern Ireland assembly and the Scottish parliament] to get a better understanding of the benefits and the challenges.”

It is thought that the tunnel could be modelled on the famous Oresund Bridge which utilises a combination of terrain dependent tunnels and floating tunnels to span 12km between Denmark and Sweden, mediating between the two via an artificial island positioned mid-way along the route.


Gandalf the Pink
#1 Posted by Gandalf the Pink on 6 Mar 2020 at 13:18 PM
A quick Google search returns the Image result for deepest road tunnel in the world returns the Eiksund Tunnel in Norway at 287m below sea level at it's deepest point.

Hand the project over to the Norwegians and pay the premium so our government do not have the opportunity to mess it up.
#2 Posted by KLD on 6 Mar 2020 at 13:35 PM
If it is technically feasible and not ruinously expensive, sounds good.
Alyn Walsh
#3 Posted by Alyn Walsh on 6 Mar 2020 at 15:59 PM
Fantastic, the end of a duopoly of Stena-line and P&0 and their overpriced fares. Much quicker and less expensive for the traveler. Hope it happens this decade!!!
#4 Posted by Wendy on 7 Mar 2020 at 06:11 AM
I don't believe this will ever go ahead. Is there demand for it? What are the passenger numbers on the ferries/flights from Scotland to Northern Ireland.

I agree that infrastructure expenditure needs to be spread more evenly throughout the UK, but surely there are far better places to spend money than on a project such as this?
#5 Posted by Billy on 8 Mar 2020 at 14:17 PM
I am surprised it has not been done before now. There is a population of 6 million on the island of Ireland needing access to the market of Great Britain. Other smaller nations have similar tunnels serving smaller populations. A tunnel would mean that we would not be dependent on weather conditions if ferries can sail or not or be restricted on when we intend to travel restricted to ferry time tables. It makes sense in the long term it will pay for itself.

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