We don’t need a bridge to France – but one to Ireland

The Donghai Bridge in China

Michael Williams

We’re continually told that Wales is a drain on the rest of the UK, and that we couldn’t survive alone.

But there are plenty of ways we could kick-start our economy if we wanted to, and one of those would be to build a bridge or tunnel to Ireland.

Wales is already the gateway to Ireland via our ferry ports in Holyhead and Fishguard, although there are real questions as to whether they’ll be fit for purpose if we leave the single market.

If we do leave, a bridge would become essential in order to keep the traffic moving. You could drive to Ireland in half an hour, with little or no waiting times.

It would also be a massive boost to Wales’ and Ireland’s economy.

As a midpoint between Dublin and London, Wales would be the place to be for businesses.

Compare this project with the Channel Tunnel. The tunnel facilitated trade worth £91.4 billion to the UK economy in 2014. 25% of UK trade with the EU comes through the tunnel.

It allowed the development of integrated cross-border supply chains, boosted tourism and increased the number of high-quality jobs on both sides of the Irish Sea.

I know what you’re thinking – you can’t build a bridge that long!

It’s 55 miles between Fishguard and Wexford, and 57 between Holyhead and Dublin. Impossible!

Not at all. The world’s longest bridge is already almost double that. The Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge in China, part of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, is 102 miles long.

But what about the cost? The Channel Tunnel at over 30 miles long cost £5 billion to build (£12 billion in today’s money) but as already noted the economic benefit has far, far exceeded that.

And if the Wales-Ireland bridge doubled up as a producer of tidal wave energy it could, in the long run, pay for its own upkeep.

With the modern technology at our disposal, and the demand for ease of travel between Ireland and the UK as a gateway to the rest of Europe, there’s no good reason not to build a bridge.

All that is needed is a little bit of ambition and vision from our politicians to get the project started.

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