Belfast Telegraph

Professor behind Northern Ireland-Scotland bridge receives deluge of emails after Boris speech

An artist’s impression of how the bridge could look
An artist’s impression of how the bridge could look

By Michael Sheils McNamee

The professor who envisaged a bridge linking Northern Ireland to Scotland has received a flood of emails from UK professionals after the idea was again highlighted by Boris Johnson.

The idea of constructing a bridge across the Irish Sea was proposed by Professor Alan Dunlop in February of this year.

The leading architect revealed he had received more than a dozen unsolicited emails from engineers and geologists inquiring about the project since the speech on Saturday.

“It has been bubbling along since January,” said Professor Dunlop.

“I thought that was the end of it, and then something else happens.

“And then with Boris Johnson, Karen Bradley and the DUP bringing it up again, it just seems like a potential story and narrative which keeps moving on.”

Last week the bridge was raised during a discussion in the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in Westminster.

Responding to a question from the DUP’s Ian Paisley, Secretary of State Karen Bradley said she was willing to have a discussion about commissioning a feasibility study on the bridge, but noted there were issues around the sea bed and the current site of the proposed bridge link.

Addressing the DUP annual conference on Saturday, former foreign secretary Mr Johnson said proposals for a bridge link were being held back by the “absence of political will”.

“I think that there will be a feasibility study, which is all I can ask for. That’s all I’ve ever asked for,” said Professor Dunlop.

“I am not suggesting for a moment it is going to be a walk in the park. Instead people providing opinions about whether it can be done or not, it would be good to actually get the facts.”

Mr Johnson first expressed his support for a bridge back in June, when he called for the proposal to be taken “seriously”.

Mr Dunlop first envisioned the idea for the bridge link after being asked to do so by a newspaper in Scotland.

He laid out two proposals for the route — one from Larne and Portpatrick, potentially costing around £20bn; or a shorter crossing between the Mull of Kintyrne and Torr Head, which could cost between £12bn and £15bn.

The proposal received a boost in March after a spokesman for the Scottish Government said it would “initiate discussions to explore improving connectivity” between the island of Ireland and Scotland, adding it was important “that all options are fully considered”.

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