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Boris Johnson asks for feasibility study into Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge


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.’


Readers' comments (15)

  • Not another Boris Bridge?! Portpatrick to Larne is possibly a good idea. If you can do it for £15billion?! The DfT needs to sort out HS2, Heathrow and the Liverpool to Newcastle Line first.

    Boris is not going to be PM for very long after the last week in Parliament, and today’s ruling by the High Court in Scotland!! And what happens with Brexit now? Architecture is easy by comparison??

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  • Gordon  Gibb

    Would it be only DUP members that were allowed to cross it, and only if they propped up the Tory Party? This wouldn't possibly be a populist idea to buy votes, would it? Will the feasibility study for the bridge that will never be built, be likely to cost as much as letting a contract for a pointless bridge in London when you don't own the land at its ends, I wonder?

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  • Kevan Shaw

    No one has noticed that the railways in Ireland are a different gauge to those in UK and Europe at 5'3" ( 1600mm) rather than 4'8 1/2" (1435mm) This renders a railway bridge pretty useless, requiring transshipment of goods and containers at one end or the other , or specialised railway wagons with changeable gauge that would only be used on the Ireland to UK route!

    Why has such a basic fact been missed? I think this is a fantasy of even greater proportions than the Garden Bridge:)

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  • Another gauge eh, Kevan Shaw?........Blimey who'd have thought it. 20 months of work down the tubes.

    Laugh? Gordon Gibb. I nearly laid an egg As for it never being built, you could well be right. Like Kevan's startling revelation, that's taken me completely by surprise. A populist idea to buy votes, eh? Crumbs. I'll tell that now to the calls, messages, reporters and emails I've been answering all day.

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  • You're such a spoilsport Kevan !! Didn't the French waste 12bn. or so on trains that were too wide for the stations.
    Had you kept quiet perhaps we would make an even bigger boondoggle and get one up on those Frenchies.
    I still think if such a project were to materialise it would have to be a floating, road only, structure.

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  • “Removing the need for a border in the Irish Sea”

    Ah, yes; let’s go back to the hard land border that hasn’t caused any difficulties so far...

    When’s the next Scottish referendum again?!

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  • Great idea you see bridges going up all over the World to cover much larger distances. Lets make the bridge the highest point of architectural and engineering brilliance

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  • Completely barmy. It’s an engineering impossibility. You could no sooner build a bridge to the Moon. Please take the opium pipe away from these people.

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  • Number Five how does China build such bridges on a regular basis?

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  • Simple answer, they don't...

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