Irish unimpressed by No. 10 plan to build a £15bn tunnel from Wales
A proposal to build a tunnel between Holyhead and the Republic of Ireland’s capital Dublin has been branded “cynical diversionary tactics” across the Irish sea.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has mooted the plan as an alternative to Boris Johnson’s proposed bridge or tunnel link between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
It has been reported a feasibility study into the proposal could be launched in the coming weeks. The price tag for the Holyhead to Dublin route could cost £15bn or more.
Devolution expert Professor Deidre Heenan from Ulster University however told the Belfast Telegraph that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a long history of announcing large infrastructure projects that never came to fruition in order to distract from other issues.
“This is simply more cynical diversionary tactics from the PM who is unwilling to acknowledge nor address the consequences of his hard Brexit for NI,” she said.
“Johnson has form for promising grand infrastructure plans that never materialise. Best to ignore.”
Architect Alan Dunlop told the same newspaper that such a tunnel was feasible but would likely cost more than the £15bn price tag as Holyhead and Dublin were more than 50 miles apart.
“Given it’s around twice the distance, and the link between Scotland and Northern Ireland has been estimated to cost £15bn, I’m not sure it would be enough,” he said.
“My preference would be for the Northern Ireland and Scotland project.”
Grant Shapps had told the Financial Times on Sunday that he was considering a tunnel linking Wales with Ireland. “Why not?” he asked, saying they needed to better connect Britain with Northern Ireland.
However, he said that the original idea of a tunnel between Northern Ireland and Scotland was still under consideration: “I don’t know whether it should be there or to Wales.”
It comes after Boris Johnson suggested the idea of a roundabout under the Isle of Man connecting the different nations of the UK. However his plan had no Welsh entrance.
Other tunnels emanating from the giant roundabout would run towards Northern Ireland and Stranraer in Scotland.
A Whitehall official told the Times that “People think this is all a joke but it’s much more likely to get the go-ahead than people think”.
According to the newspaper, however, the tunnel scheme is regarded as “batshit” by several of Johnson’s senior aides.
“The idea was that these three tunnels would meet in a giant roundabout underneath the Isle of Man and the tunnel to Ireland would start there,” a source told the Times. “Everyone knows Boris wants to do this so people were asked to look at how.”