Plans for link between Northern Ireland and Scotland reportedly scrapped

Nicola Sturgeon had asked for the funding earmarked for the link to be sent to the devolved administrations instead
Plans for link between Northern Ireland and Scotland reportedly scrapped

By Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Plans to build a tunnel or bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland have been scrapped, according to reports.

The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that the idea is one pledge which would not be fulfilled as the UK Treasury looks to stick to self-imposed spending limits in next month’s Budget.

A UK government official told the paper that the link – proposed between Portpatrick and Larne – was “dead – at least for now”.

The British prime minister had previously been supportive of the link.

Boris Johnson in Commons
The British prime minister was reportedly supportive of the idea (House of Commons/PA)

The plans were derided in Scotland, with Transport Secretary Michael Matheson saying it could cost as much as £33 billion (€38.7 billion).

Other estimates put the cost closer to £15 billion (€17.5 billion), which would still account for a major chunk of spending as the UK comes out of the other side of the pandemic.

The UK government appeared serious about the link, commissioning a union connectivity review which would, in part, assess its feasibility and cost.

But Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon dismissed the idea, urging the Chancellor to instead send the funding to the devolved administrations to help deal with domestic issues.

In March last year, Ms Sturgeon said: “If you’ve got £20 billion available to build a bridge, I’m pretty sure me and I’m sure equally the First Minister of Northern Ireland would be able to find things to spend that on right now that actually would be really useful to accelerate the progress to net-zero.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has previously said his preference would be for a tunnel as opposed to a bridge, telling journalists last year: “But I think the best solution if we’re going to bridge Scotland with Northern Ireland is a tunnel, and I’ve had conversations along those lines with the prime minister.”

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