Transport bosses told to assess option of bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets soldiers after serving Christmas lunch to British troops stationed in Estonia during a one-day visit to the Baltic country. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday December 21, 2019. The Prime Minister thanked the servicemen and women for their work as he joined them for lunch at the Tapa military base near the capital Tallinn. The base is home to 850 British troops from the Queen's Royal Hussars who lead the Nato battlegroup along with personnel from Estonia, France and Denmark. See PA story POLITICS Estonia. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Boris Johnson has championed the building of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland. (PA)

Transport officials have been asked to review proposals for a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton confirmed in the House of Lords on Tuesday that inquiries were being made about the feasibility of such a scheme.

She even told peers the government was considering a potential tunnel, since tunnelling costs have drastically come down in recent years.

But she cautioned peers at question time not to hold their breath about any quick outcome to the investigations.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 THURSDAY DECEMBER 26 File photo dated 9/9/2019 of Leo Varadkar meeting Boris Johnson in Government Buildings in Dublin. Ireland�s premier has said he will not dismiss the idea of building a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland, but insisted the UK must pay for it.
Leo Varadkar has previously insisted the UK would have to pay for the infrastructure project. (PA)

Boris Johnson raised the possibility of building a bridge last month, saying it was a very interesting idea.

Engineering experts poured cold water on the proposal, warning it was potentially fraught with problems and costs could spiral.

Initial estimates put the cost of such a project at around £15 billion although the Institution of Civil Engineers suggested on Monday a tunnel under the Irish Sea would be a more practical solution.

The issue was raised at Lords question time by Labour former minister Lord Foulkes of Cumnock as peers pressed the minister over repairs to London’s Hammersmith Bridge.

Lord Foulkes said: “During the general election Boris Johnson pledged to consider building a bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland even though there are hundreds of tons of explosives in Beaufort’s Dyke, which were put there supposedly because it’s a safe place to put them.


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“If the Government can’t keep Hammersmith Bridge open how on earth are they going to manage to do that?” he demanded, to laughter.

“Is this going to go ahead?”

Lady Vere replied: “You’re quite right.

“We have asked officials to look at various options for bridges which would strengthen our union.

“I understand there is some talk of a potential tunnel, now that tunnelling costs are much cheaper than they used to be.

“I will say watch this space but perhaps don’t hold your breath.”

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