Belfast Telegraph

DUP call for study into NI-Scotland bridge

How a bridge to Scotland could look
How a bridge to Scotland could look
Paul Girvan

By James Grant

The DUP have renewed calls for an assessment into building a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Transport spokesman Paul Girvan admitted it would be an "ambitious endeavour but previous bridges dubbed impossible have been made".

"As a unionist there will always be an attraction in seeing a physical connection between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, but there are benefits stretching outside of the United Kingdom," the South Antrim MP said.

He made the comments in an article published yesterday online at politicshome.com. "Across the world, bridges and tunnels have been constructed which only a decade or two earlier would have been ruled impossible or impractical.

"Technology moves on and we in the UK should not self-censor ambition," Mr Girvan added.

"For our part, we do not ignore the technical or financial considerations of engaging in such a major infrastructure project."

He urged a feasibility study to be completed and for the plan to be given more consideration.

"It seems strange that anyone would be opposed to proper expert analysis of the issues involved, but in Northern Ireland there have been some who have not been able to even support an endeavour to establish the facts," he said.

Plans to connect the two countries have been voiced since the 1880s, when the idea of a tunnel was backed by engineers and the Belfast Chamber of Commerce.

The DUP's 2015 general election manifesto called for a feasibility study into a tunnel or enclosed bridge across the North Channel from Larne, 23 miles north of Belfast, to the Scottish coastline.

But it was not until last year that the proposal was discussed on a national level.

DUP leader Arlene Foster called on the Scottish government in June to back plans for a bridge which would be around 28 miles long at an estimated cost of £15 billion.

Mr Girvan said no one in his party could have predicted "quite the level of interest" there would be in the proposal.

A stumbling block could be Beaufort's Dyke, a 300-metre deep submarine trench in the North Channel, which was used as a munitions dump at the end of the two world wars.

However, Mr Girvan drew on the Oresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden, which has reportedly added €8.41bn to the Danish economy, to emphasise the benefits to Northern Ireland.

"As we leave the EU, the DUP has been clear that there should be no border erected down the Irish Sea. Instead of placing barriers between parts of the UK we should be building bridges."

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