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Bridge to Ireland hopes recede as Treasury curbs bite

September 16 2021

Bridge to Ireland hopes recede as Treasury curbs bite

Hopes that a £15bn physical connection between Scotland and Ireland could lead the UK out of the coronavirus pandemic appear to have been dashed amid reports that government officials have kicked the idea into the long grass.

A need to balance the budget deficit has seen the Treasury row back on the idea, despite support from Boris Johnson who viewed the link as an opportunity to strengthen economic and social ties.

Prof. Alan Dunlop, a key architect of the scheme, was interviewed by comedian Patrick Kielty at Tor Head to discuss his proposals for a Bridge to Ireland for the documentary '100 Years of Union', to be broadcast tonight on BBC1 at 21:00.

Unbowed by the latest reports Dunlop told Urban Realm: "They think it's all over. The Bridge, running since January 2018. Over three and a half years of front-page headlines, presentations, conferences, international press and the support of a prime minister.

"All seemed very positive, at the end Kielty finished by saying 'I was sceptical but you've convinced me'. Whether they use that I don't know, I hope they do."

The documentary presages publication of the UK government's Union Connectivity report, which will assess current transport links and the case for future investment.

Dunlop travelled to Torr Head, Northern Ireland, with the BBC to view the western end of the link
Dunlop travelled to Torr Head, Northern Ireland, with the BBC to view the western end of the link


Andrew C
#1 Posted by Andrew C on 16 Sep 2021 at 09:54 AM
Pity it may be sunk but full credit absolute genius pr Alan all over the world.
Neil C
#2 Posted by Neil C on 16 Sep 2021 at 11:59 AM
Forget a bridge and shorten your gaze though Prof Dunlop. The RIAS and Glasgow School of Art badly need your help!!!!
Jimbob Tanktop
#3 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 16 Sep 2021 at 13:58 PM
Narrator: "There never was any hope"
#4 Posted by HMR on 16 Sep 2021 at 14:30 PM
A train connection is the very most that should be considered and below the water/ground level. Who would want a polluting car network anywhere near that coastline in the photo behind them? No thanks.
Derek Cranford
#5 Posted by Derek Cranford on 16 Sep 2021 at 15:04 PM
This Bridge idea was so utterly idiotic and fatally flawed from the first breath that it is utterly unbelievable that a) its got this much attention and b) the people championing it are still entertained by serious people to witter on purely as smoke screening to an inept government that is absentmindedly sinking the union for its own mendacious ends. (whether thats a good or bad thing i'll leave open)
The basics of it are so fundamental – incontrovertible that the discussion should have ended after the first sentence that said, “Bridge to Ireland”. In the 129 years since Gottlieb Daimler unleased the internal combustion powered car – Scotland still does not have a dual carriageway to link the central belt with the highlands and Northern Ireland's two biggest cities still don’t have a linking dual carriageway either. But with that in mind serious people are standing in two of the most remote locations on their respective islands (Torr Head and Kintyre) and saying “aye a bridge will work here”
Kintyre is mentioned as a landing site - and is 148 miles of single carriageway road that crosses the Rest and be Thankful (in a constant state of disrepair and rolling closures). So, to upgrade this – as it passes through some of the most rugged, scenic and difficult terrain in the British isles - is a couple of hundred billion pound job. Train network to meet the bridge? There’s another couple of hundred billion or are we just blithely using the car/truck until the sea starts lapping up the Royal Mile? Portpatrick also mentioned as a landing site - 60 miles of tortuous, twisty, single carriageway road that hugs the coast (rising sea levels anyone?) and upgrading this is another 10s of billions job – likely for resilience you’ll need to go inland via Newton Stewart – 71 miles of pretty much brand new dual carriageway through the Galloway hills – plus an upgraded rail system?
The other side: Torr Head is 35 miles from a dual carriageway and in between sits the Glens of Antrim, highly challenging, technical and environmental nightmares to create a road network suitable to meet a bridge – and absolutely no railway infrastructure at all. Here’s a list of Critical infrastructure projects that are about 30 years behind when we bloody well needed them: A9 Dualling, Rest and Be Thankful lasting repair, A82 Tarbet to Glenfalloch, A77 to Cairnryan. Kintyre to Glasgow 148 miles of single carriageway road needing dualing. A6 to Derry, A5 Ballygawley to Derry (critical cross border link road from Donegal to Dublin). No to mention a total lack of any way adequate rail infrastructure outside the Central Belt and the Belfast – Portadown corridor.
Idiocy from all concerned…and telling that a retired Architect with no experience in this sector at all is fronting this and no sign of someone from Transport Scotland. Funny that?
#6 Posted by Acorah on 16 Sep 2021 at 16:24 PM
#5 Tell us how you really feel Derek?
#7 Posted by Roddy_ on 17 Sep 2021 at 01:11 AM
Och.. the world needs dreamers... and given that Boris is probably about to renege on HS2 to Leeds it is destined to remain a dream.

Bring back Troon to Belfast Seacat ... 1hr 10 mins... jobs a goodun and no need to wreck a beautiful and sensitive landscape.
#8 Posted by whatever on 17 Sep 2021 at 11:45 AM
Alan Dunlop grabbing for headlines again... yawn! ...If a bridge was ever built, it should be closer to Stranraer / Belfast for obvious reasons, (some stated above).... but Boris just wants to appear like he cares about NI and it's a nice distraction from the Hard Border to the South question!
Alan Dunlop
#9 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 17 Sep 2021 at 12:59 PM
Gulp! Soooo that's it .....a nice distraction kinda deal. Drat! Derek, very good post. Made me laugh.
Alan Dunlop
#10 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 17 Sep 2021 at 13:18 PM
....although it took up most of my morning and I had to break for lunch halfway through but I'm hoping to finish the rest tonight.
#11 Posted by Philip on 17 Sep 2021 at 16:14 PM
A tedious and unnecessary proposal that is nothing more than a distraction and self publicity exercise.

Brian Sewell
#12 Posted by Brian Sewell on 18 Sep 2021 at 07:03 AM
#11 Nailed it, mate.
Alan Dunlop
#13 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 18 Sep 2021 at 09:31 AM
Indeed Brian, clearly no fool.......but yet curiously satisfying.

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