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Scotland secretary backs Irish Sea tunnel instead of bridge

Alan Dunlop's proposed Celtic Crossing
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The possibility of a tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland is being considered by the UK government, according to the Scottish secretary

Speaking during an evidence session in the Scottish Parliament, Alister Jack said Boris Johnson’s proposal for a £15 billion bridge was a ‘euphemism’ for tunnel.

According to the AJ’s sister publication New Civil Engineer, Jack told MSPs that a tunnel would be ‘less expensive’ than a bridge - an idea resurrected and championed by architect Alan Dunlop (concept pictured above).

‘Tunnelling techniques now are quite advanced and certainly to go from south west Scotland to Northern Ireland, it would be less expensive to tunnel it,’ he said.

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

Last month, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) called for an independent study into the feasibility of the bridge.

Experts have labelled the bridge’s price tag optimistic.

They have also questioned its practicality, given the weather conditions in the Irish Sea and the position of Beaufort’s Dyke trench, which contains dumped wartime munitions.

Jack said a tunnel could solve this problem.

‘It’s no different to the tunnels connecting the Faroes, it’s not different to the tunnels underneath the fjords, and it deals with the problem of Beaufort’s Dyke and the World War Two munitions,’ he said

Meanwhile, a British Tunnelling Society report to be published later this year will consider potential routes where tunnels might become viable if costs reduce.

Lead author of the report Bill Grose suggested that advantages of tunnels include the lack of impediment to shipping during construction or operation, increased security from weather and terrorism, and lower maintenance.

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