UK Government confirms ‘high level discussions’ about Holyhead to Dublin underwater tunnel
The UK Government has confirmed that “high level discussions” are taking place about an underwater tunnel between Holyhead and the Republic of Ireland capital Dublin.
The plan however will be presented to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a “comparator” to the separate idea of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland, with only one of the two going ahead.
Baroness Charlotte Vere, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Transport, said that the route is in the works as part of the Fixed Link Feasibility Study begun in March.
That independent study is being led by Douglas Oakervee, former chairman of HS2 and Crossrail, and Gordon Masterson, the former vice-president of Jacobs Engineering.
She was responding to a written question tabled by a Liberal Democrat peer regarding the possibility of an “underwater tunnel” between Wales and Oreland.
Baroness Vere said: “As with any assessment at this early stage, it is important to consider the broad range of options, so a route between Holyhead and Dublin is being assessed as a comparator.
“Since this route is not the main focus of the study, only high-level discussions around it have taken place. These have been facilitated by the independent technical team leading the study.”
‘There or Wales’
The tunnel idea came to the fore after the chair of the Union Connectivity Review, a wide-ranging study of the economic potential of UK infrastructure, suggested that it may work better than a bridge.
In an interim UCR report published in March this year, Hendy explained he had engaged Douglas Oakervee and Gordon Masterson to “assess the feasibility, cost and timescales” of constructing a fixed link.
Last month Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps suggested the plan as an alternative to Boris Johnson’s proposed bridge to the Financial Times.
“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.”