Alan Dunlop’s proposed bridge between Scotland and Ireland has been debated by politicians in Dublin
Scottish minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe Michael Russell and Irish spokesperson on European Affairs Neale Richmond both backed further talks about a crossing.
Dunlop, who is professor of architecture at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University, told the National newspaper last month that a bridge between Portpatrick and Bangor or Larne could help create a ‘Celtic Powerhouse’.
Richmond, a member of Ireland’s Seanad upper house, raised the subject of the crossing when Russell visited Dublin this week to address the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs.
Richmond said: ‘You mention the idea of a Celtic arc, which has been discussed quite imaginatively by one of your colleagues talking about a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland. That’s well and good and something to aspire to … there are obvious commonalities between our two countries.’
Russell replied: ‘I’ve seen many proposals for fixed links. In the 19th century there was a proposal for a railway tunnel between the North of Ireland and Campbeltown. I think it’s a great idea. It would open up my constituency; that’s the route I would like to see. There’s a lot of talking to be done about that but I think it would be important that talking starts.’
Dunlop said last month that a bridge between Mull of Kintyre, near Campbeltown, and Torr Head on the Northern Irish coast would cost about £12 billion.
But he said a crossing further south, between Portpatrick and Bangor or Larne, would have more benefits, despite costing more.
‘[This] would be better and the setting more dramatic – you could potentially see it from Whitehaven, the Lake District and the Isle of Man,’ he said.
‘While much more costly because of the geological and environmental challenges, it would also reinvigorate the area around Stranraer and potentially the whole Ayrshire coast from Troon to Stranraer and the whole north coastline of the Solway Firth for people coming from the North of England.
‘I would estimate that option to cost about £15-20 billion as a conservative estimate.’