Boris Johnson is understood to have asked for a feasibility report into a proposed bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland – an idea revived by architect Alan Dunlop last year
According to Channel 4 News, the prime minister told the Treasury and Department for Transport to examine the costs and risks of a possible link.
Dunlop, the principal of Alan Dunlop Architects, reckons the price tag for a crossing from Mull of Kintyre to Torr Head would be about £12 billion. But he argues that a bridge between Portpatrick and Bangor or Larne could have more benefits, though it would also cost more.
Documents seen by Channel 4 News reportedly show the prime minister asking government officials ‘where this money could come from’ and ‘the risks around the project’. These risks include ‘WW2 munitions in the Irish Sea’.
Experts have suggested that a bridge could help break the Brexit stalemate by potentially removing the need for a border in the Irish Sea.
A government spokesperson told the news programme: ‘Government regularly commissions work to examine the feasibility of projects. During the leadership campaign, candidates spoke about a number of issues which resulted in Number 10 commissions ahead of a new prime minister taking over.
‘This PM has made no secret of his support for infrastructure projects that increase connectivity for people and particularly those that strengthen the union.’
Johnson, who was famously the main supporter of the never-built Garden Bridge across The Thames, revealed his interest in a Scotland-to-Northern Ireland link last year when he was foreign secretary.
The notion of building across the Irish Sea is not new, but concept proposals, including plans for a huge tunnel which was put forward during the First World War, have never progressed.
Dunlop revived the idea of a Celtic Crossing in early 2018 in response to reports that Johnson wanted a bridge from England to France.
The architect told the AJ: ‘I’ve been studying the challenges of building a bridge between Scotland and Ireland since the story first broke over 20 months ago.
‘I firmly believe it is possible to create both a road and rail link to connect the UK with Ireland. There are precedents we can draw on in Europe and globally – projects for sea bridges that span much longer distances and are designed to withstand typhoons and cover deeper trenches than those in the North Irish Sea.
’This is possible,’ he added, ’And the fact that the government has called for a feasibility study into the costs and risks is a very welcome move forward.’