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Celtic Crossing champion unveils alternative tunnel concept

celtic crossing as sea tunnel final edit context

The architect who called for a crossing between Ireland and Scotland has unveiled an alternative concept after the government said its preferred option was for a tunnel

Alan Dunlop, principal of Alan Dunlop Architects, initially proposed a bridge across the Irish Sea but has now embraced the possibility of a tunnel after secretary state for Scotland Alister Jack told MSPs the idea was being considered by the UK government.

A spokesperson for prime minister Boris Johnson said in February that government officials were looking into building a bridge. However, this was contradicted by Jack, who said earlier this month that Johnson’s proposal for a birdge was a ‘euphemism’ for a tunnel. 

Two potential routes for the crossing have been suggested – from Portpatrick, Scotland to Larne, Northern Ireland or from near Campbeltown, Scotland to Northern Ireland’s Antrim coast.

celtic crossing as sea tunnel final edit context

celtic crossing as sea tunnel final edit context

Source: Alan Dunlop 

Dunlop said his drawing put the tunnel terminal at a site north of Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway.

He also said the crossing, whether bridge of tunnel, could harness wave energy from the Irish Sea ‘on a massive scale’ and would bring economic advantages to both regions.

His latest scheme features floating tunnels 12 metres below the wave line hung from pontoons above, ’not dug below the sea bed’.

Dunlop told the AJ: ’The structure that supports the tunnel looks like it might have risen from the rocks, fragments and mass of loose stones at the base of the sea cliffs that run all along coast in that part of the Galloway coastline.

’In the drawing, [floating] pontoons support the tunnel below and are connected to the sea bed by cable stays. Each is set out to allow ships to pass through. Similar pontoon structures are currently being developed and constructed as part of the Norwegian Coastal Highway, crossing fjords 500 metres deep but here the pontoons are designed also to generate tidal energy.’

Earlier this month Jack told members of Scottish Parliament that a tunnel would be ‘less expensive’ than a bridge, partially because it could bypass dumped Second World War munitions lying in Beautfort’s Dyke trench.

The proposal for a crossing has previously received implicit support from Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar, who said in October it should be taken seriously. 

Alan Dunlop's proposed Celtic Crossing

Alan Dunlop’s proposed Celtic Crossing

Source: Alan Dunlop

Old: Celtic Crossing as a bridge as propsoed by Alan Dunlop



Readers' comments (2)

  • Taking the 'miserable-ist' view, I wonder how the Norwegian coastal highway designers are managing the risk of ships colliding with the pontoons?
    The kinetic energy of a loaded supertanker - even if moving slowly - is surely enormous, and there's a substantial history of big ships going off course to disaster. They support the notion that if it can happen (however unlikely), it eventually will happen.

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  • Hello Robert, I have documentation, reports and feasibility studies commissioned by the Norwegian government regarding the Norwegian Coastal Highway. The are quite incredible publications, covering extensively engineering, design, structure, timelines and also the possibility of cargo and passenger ships passing through the corridor and likelihood colliding with the pontoons and solutions. They accept that however unlikely it may happen. But the work to the coastal highway is continuing.

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