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Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge included in DUP manifesto


Construction of a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland – an idea revived by architect Alan Dunlop last year – has been included in the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) election manifesto

The DUP says the billions of pounds earmarked for High Speed 2 (HS2) would be better spent on other transport projects, including a link across the Irish Sea.

In September it was widely reported that prime minister and Conservative leader Boris Johnson had asked for a feasibility report into the proposed bridge with the Treasury and the Department for Transport asked to examine the scheme’s costs.

Now the DUP has spelled out its commitment to ‘take forward’ the ambitious crossing in its manifesto for the 2019 General Election on 12 December.

The document reads: ’If the feasibility study on a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland concludes positively, this should also be pursued with the national government and devolved institutions working together to take it forward.

’In the midst of the fevered debate about the likelihood or viability of this connection too many have chosen to ignore the importance of that route for business and people and the expensiveness of the NI-Scotland crossing currently, costs which are about to increase even more with the Shipping Low Sulphur Surcharge.’

It adds: ’[Meanwhile] The economic case for HS2 simply does not stand up. The scale of investment in one route cannot be justified. It is about making more of England a suburb of London than rebalancing and expanding the economy of the United Kingdom, and an unwillingness to stop a poor project simply because money has already been spent.’

Dunlop, the principal of Alan Dunlop Architects, has previously estimated 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.

Experts have also suggested that a bridge could help break the Brexit stalemate by potentially removing the need for a border in the Irish Sea.

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: ‘In the months that I’ve been leading and commenting on the bridge initiative, in the press and on television and radio, the most positive responses have come from the people of Northern Ireland. So, I am not surprised that the DUP have firmly incorporated the feasibility study into their manifesto, and that it has become such a significant part of their national infrastructure proposals.’

The DUP was the fifth-largest party in the House of Commons after the Conservatives, Labour, SNP and Lib Dems with 10 MPs out of 650 seats when Parliament dissolved on 6 November.


Readers' comments (9)

  • A bridge from Bangor to Portpatrick might cost more, but it would land at each side in relatively populated areas where the road (and maybe rail) links would surely be cheaper to establish, whereas a bridge from Torr Head to the Mull of Kintyre would involve far more expensive infrastructure.
    On the Scottish side this would require negotiating some of the most challenging terrain in Britain - not only at the Mull itself, but in the form of crossing sea lochs and the Firth of Clyde on the way to Glasgow - but on the other hand would revolutionise transport links between south Argyll and the rest of the country.

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  • Yes, I agree Robert, the terrain is challenging. But if you have time, take a look at the video of the Norwegian Coastal Highway in this recent feature from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from just a few weeks back

    The crossing most challenging terrain in northern Europe. Then say it's not possible. A £35 billion investment in transport infrastructure in a country with a population of 5 million.

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  • I feel its a luxury NI cannot afford, unless they plan on using their personal RHI profits to fund it!

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  • Politics, ( dislike of Boris Johnson and DUP ) and economics ( ask two economists, get three answers) aside, the architectural and engineering question is: can it be done?

    The answer is yes.

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  • If you think we’ll still be sending truck loads of precast concrete, beef cattle and whiskey across the Irish sea in 50 years – I have a bridge to sell you.

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  • Some stretches of highway in Norway are a revelation - even twenty years ago the ferry link on the E5 across Sognefjord was shortened by tunneling through to a cliff face on the north side, with the traffic marshalling area, including a flyover, inside the mountain and little more than the linkspan pontoon in the open.
    Even then there was talk of building neutral buoyancy submerged tube floating tunnels to replace ferries across deep sea stretches on the E39 coastal route, but just how this works with varying densities of traffic is beyond me.
    And then there's always the odd Russian submarine nosing about, to think of.

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  • Great news I say we hurry up and get it built.

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  • Bridgeit: Get it Done.

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  • Carbon neutral project? I doubt it.

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