We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.
Downing Street said the review, led by Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy, will explore the “cost, practicality and demand” for a fixed link. But some critics have already dismissed it as impractical and a waste of money which would be better spent elsewhere.
Boris Johnson has mooted the bridge idea over the Irish Sea several times and the Government confirmed earlier this year that it was being discussed by officials.
One route which has been suggested is from Portpatrick in South West Scotland to Larne on Northern Ireland’s east coast, which could replace an existing ferry route.
A route further north, from near Campbeltown in Argyll to the Antrim Coast, has also been suggested.
The Argyll route would be shorter but would lack onward transport links while the Portpatrick route would have to span 20 miles of the Irish Sea.
Downing Street said the transport study will set out advice on a “wide range of possible options” to improve the quality and availability of links across the UK.
The Hendy review will also look at the feasibility of various other options designed to boost links to Scotland and Wales, including improving major roads like the A1.
It comes after the Prime Minister said in a speech in July on how to kick-start the economy following the coronavirus pandemic, pledged £100 million on 29 road projects.
Whitehall officials have mooted that the new fixed link could cost between £15billion and £20billion, however.
In a statement on the review, Mr Johnson said today: “The United Kingdom is the greatest political partnership the world has ever seen and we need transport links between our nations that are as strong as our historic bonds.
“Quality transport links are the key to making sure everyone can access education, jobs and housing, helping businesses to grow and thrive and rebalancing opportunity fairly across our country.
“As we build back better from the pandemic, Sir Peter’s review will help make sure we have the right connections to support, sustain and strengthen our communities – to truly level up across the UK.”
Sir Peter, who ran London’s transport network during the Olympics in 2012, said: “Improving links across the UK on the basis of the wider economic benefits that increased investment will deliver will be of benefit to everyone in the UK, and I’m thus very pleased to lead this work.”
Boris Johnson mocks Sturgeon and SNP for trying to ‘hand EU control’ [REVEAL]
Scotland attacked after EU and SNP talks exposed [INSIGHT]
Tory MSP forced to LEAVE Scottish Parliament after furious attack [LATEST]
However, Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson MSP claimed the Hendy review has been “organised with virtually no consultation”, despite transport being a devolved issue.
He said: “We absolutely want to see improved transport and connectivity links beyond Scotland’s borders – under any constitutional arrangements.
“But this study is clearly part of the Tory Government’s wider agenda to undermine the devolution settlement across a whole range of policy areas.”
The Scottish Government stressed that it had not investigated or undertaken any feasibility study or a fixed link between Scotland and Northern Ireland and “has no current plans to do so.”
Concerns have also been raised that the project could face significant engineering obstacles including a munitions dump in the Beaufort Dyke, a deep trench beneath the Irish Sea.
Sir Peter is expected to publish his recommendations next summer.
Source: Read Full Article