Proposals to build an enormous 33km bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland have been mooted by an Irish policy think tank.
According to Andy Pollack, the director behind the Republic of Ireland lobby group the Centre for Cross Border Studies, the £3.5 billion link could eventually open up rail links between the province and Europe.
Although Pollack admitted the project would pose 'a massive engineering challenge' he pointed to other longer-span bridges being built elsewhere in the world, including the road bridge under construction across the 36km channel between Shanghai and Ningbo in east China.
If the scheme, which is being mooted for the stretch of the Irish Sea starting in Galloway, Scotland, got off the ground it would be a much-sought-after prize for any architect.
Pollack said: 'It is just an idea - a very, very ambitious idea.
'But I put it forward because it could be one of the triggers to the next phase of Ireland's economic development.
'And who is to say that it couldn't also be part of the next phase in Scotland's economic development.'
It is not the first time a bridge has been suggested across this part of the Irish Sea and, just two years ago, a 14km bridge from Scotland to Orkney was also widely mooted.by Richard Waite