Boris Johnson – Douglas Ross backs plan to build bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland
DOUGLAS Ross has backed a plan – first reported in The National – to build a bridge or tunnel linking Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The idea for a bridge connecting the south-west of Scotland with either County Antrim or Down was originally put forward by Scots architect professor Alan Dunlop in this newspaper in January three years ago, arguing that it would be technically possible and that it would help to foster trading links between the two countries post-Brexit.
The story quickly prompted an international debate with papers and media outlets across the world picking up on the merits of the idea or not.
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Politicians in Ireland, including the Republic’s foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney and the DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, also got behind it.
It provoked a muted response in Scotland, with many people dismissing the idea as far-fetched and pointing to the issues of the large-scale dumping of munitions off parts of the Scottish coast. Some suggested money would be better spent upgrading the A77 to the port of Cairnryan.
However, Boris Johnson gave his support to the scheme, initially at the DUP’s annual conference in 2018.
In an online question and answer session yesterday, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross was asked whether he supported a bridge or tunnel linking Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Ross told the Centre for Policy Studies audience: “You’re right, it could be a tunnel, it could be a bridge. There’s major issues in that stretch of water in terms of what was dumped there many years ago. What I absolutely support is any added investment in Scotland and what we see, where that tunnel or bridge would link Scotland to Northern Ireland, is an area of the country that has been sadly neglected by the SNP in terms of infrastructure investment.”
He added: “We need to pump a lot of money into the infrastructure of the south and the south-west of Scotland and that is something that can be done by directly investing in these areas because it has been neglected by the SNP government for so long.”
The structure is being looked at as part of a major review of UK transport with Johnson seeing it as the type of large-scale project which could boost the economy once the pandemic is over. He previously said a 20-mile bridge linking Portpatrick and Larne could cost about £15 billion. In October, Johnson said it was time to move the project a step forward.
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The independent review is being carried out by Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy. Transport Secretary Michael Matheson MSP said the review had been “organised with virtually no consultation”, despite transport being devolved.