A new Chunnel? Tunnel connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland may soon get green light
A long-awaited tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland could get the go-ahead as early as next month.
The connection — dubbed Boris’ Burrow due to the prime minister’s enthusiastic backing — would span from Larne in Northern Ireland to Stranraer in Scotland and be roughly the same length as the Channel Tunnel.
It is believed the ambitious plan would ease post-Brexit tensions after Johnson’s withdrawal agreement created checks for ferry cargo goods traveling between the countries.
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Last year the U.K. government tasked the chairman of Network Rail Sir Peter Hendy with coming up with ideas to better connect the four home nations.
Initially, a bridge was considered, but the treacherous Irish sea would mean it would be closed for “probably 100 days a year,” said Scottish Secretary Alister Jack. That particular distance between Ireland and Scotland is a shipping lane known for its rough waters.
So a tunnel, approximately 20 miles long and servicing both trains and cars, could be a cheaper and more viable option.
Hendy will release a study that will deliberate on whether the tunnel crossing is an option next month, according to City A.M.
It is believed he has already had his last meeting with Johnson to determine if the government should commission a formal feasibility study of the project.
“My strong inclination would be that he [Sir Hardy] thinks it should be a tunnel because he and I have had conversations about the weather patterns in the Irish Sea and Beaufort’s Dyke, and there’s a munitions deposit there,” Jack said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. “Tunnels deal with all those problems.”
The Prime Minister has long been behind this audacious project, estimated to cost around £2 billion (about $2.8 billion), which would be a fixed link between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
However, Tory MP Simon Hoare, chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, has dismissed the idea as “fanciful.”
“The trains could be pulled by an inexhaustible herd of Unicorns overseen by stern, officious dodos. A PushmePullYou could be the senior guard and Puff the Magic Dragon the inspector. Let’s concentrate on making the protocol work and put the hallucinogenics down,” he tweeted.
Regardless, any project would also have to avoid Beaufort’s Dyke, a 30-mile trench up to 300 metres deep — Britain’s largest-known military dump.
Meanwhile, a similar project called the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link is being constructed in Europe. It’s an 11-mile tunnel under the Baltic Sea connecting Germany with Denmark.
It will provide a major link between central Europe and Scandinavia and is due to be completed in 2029.