Northern Ireland - Scotland bridge: Boris Johnson to revive £20bn plan

One version of the plan would be modelled on the Oresund Bridge (pictured) in Denmark. (Image by Hans Stolpe from Pixabay)
One version of the plan would be modelled on the Oresund Bridge (pictured) in Denmark. (Image by Hans Stolpe from Pixabay)

Boris Johnson is set to defy his critics and revive plans to build a £20 billion bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The Prime Minister is seeking to sanction a series of grand infrastructure projects to cement the legacy of his rule – despite opponents of the move previously describing it as ‘pie in the sky’ and a waste of public money.

The results of a feasibility study into the construction of a combined bridge and tunnel connection at the narrowest 20-mile gap between the British mainland and Northern Ireland will be reviewed by Mr Johnson.

One version of the plan would be modelled on the Oresund Bridge, which runs for five miles from the Swedish coast near Malmo to an artificial island in the middle of the Oresund Strait.

It then turns into a 2.5-mile tunnel to the Danish island of Amager, near Copenhagen.

The Oresund crossing was the setting for The Bridge, a popular BBC series starring Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia as detectives investigating a gruesome murder.

Mr Johnson has refused to be dissuaded against the project by warnings about spiralling costs for a project that could rival the feats of the great Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The bridge would most likely run between Portpatrick in Scotland and Larne in County Antrim, and engineers are understood to have come up with the idea of a bridge-tunnel split as a way of dealing with Beaufort’s Dyke, the United Kingdom’s largest offshore dump site for conventional and chemical munitions after the Second World War.

It lies seven miles off Portpatrick and the Ministry of Defence estimates there are one million tons of munitions at the bottom of the deep trench, including 14,500 tons of 5in artillery rockets filled with phosgene gas, in addition to two tons of metal drums filled with radioactive waste which was dumped there during the 1950s.

Under one version of Mr Johnson’s plan, the bridge would run from the Scottish coast over the trench, before becoming a tunnel for the final stretch to Northern Ireland.

The Scottish Government has expressed scepticism about the idea, citing ‘an obvious number of practical obstacles and challenges’ and the need for ‘a robust assessment of the costs or benefits’.

Plans for a link between Scotland and Northern Ireland go back to 1869.

This story first appeared on the website of our sister title, The Scotsman.