Hendy lets PM down easy on £335bn Northern Ireland bridge

29/11/2021
Chris Ames

A fixed transport link between Scotland and Northern Ireland will remain a pipe dream after analysis found that it could cost around 22 times Boris Johnson’s estimate.

A study by technical advisers Professor Douglas Oakervee CBE and Professor Gordon Masterton OBE gave indicative cost estimates for the full route of £335bn for a bridge crossing and £209bn for a tunnel crossing.

Two years ago, the prime minister estimated a cost of around £15bn for a bridge crossing.

The idea for a crossing from Stranraer in Scotland to Larne in Northern Ireland (pictured) was initially part of Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review (UCR), launched in October 2020 and published last week.

In March Prof Oakervee and Prof Masterton were appointed to lead the study into the technical engineering feasibility of a fixed transport link as a separate workstream.

In the foreword to the study report, published alongside the UCR, Sir Peter was at pains to spare the prime minister’s blushes.

He wrote: ‘This in-depth, evidence-based assessment has concluded that cutting-edge, twenty-first century civil engineering technology would make it possible to construct either a bridge or a tunnel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

'A bridge crossing, however, would be the longest span bridge built to date. A tunnel would be the longest undersea tunnel ever built given the limited gradients on which trains can operate, the route it would need to take and the depths it would need to reach. In addition, based on today's technology and safety considerations, a tunnel crossing could only be constructed for railway use.

'The need for a railway on either a bridge or tunnel would also require significant construction to connect it to the railway network at either end, introducing some complexity since the Irish railway gauge is different from that of Great Britain. The consequence of these parameters for either a tunnel or a bridge is that they are expensive.’

Sir Peter added that planning, design, parliamentary and legal processes, and construction would take nearly 30 years before the crossing could become operational.

He added that ‘whilst the economic and social effects would be transformational, the costs would be impossible to justify'.

He concluded: ‘It is therefore my recommendation to Government that further work on the fixed link should not progress beyond this feasibility study. Despite my recommendation, I am clear that this was an excellent question to ask.’

Adopting the boosterish tone for which Mr Johnson is known, Sir Peter added: ‘Whilst I am unlikely to see such a link built in my lifetime, the march of technology, breakthroughs from UK infrastructure research, and ever-developing British engineering skills may yet be able to satisfy the ambition to join up Great Britain and Northern Ireland at an affordable price and timescale, and wise investment in UK research and development will bring this time closer.’

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

INSIDE:

  • COP26: The sector reacts
  • Road pricing: Putting the theory into practice
View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Rights Of Way Officer

£27,741 - £29,577
We are looking for a candidate who has practical experience of working with Rights of Way and access issues and... Cambridgeshire
Recruiter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Highways Projects Manager

Up to £38,326.08 p.a.
We are looking for an experienced, skilled and competent Highways Projects Manager to help deliver a wide range of... Broxbourne, Hertfordshire
Recruiter: Broxbourne Borough Council

Assistant Director of Environment and Regulatory Services

circa £84,000
As Assistant Director of Environment and Regulatory Services, you will be responsible for core ‘front-line’ place-based services, including... Bolton, Greater Manchester
Recruiter: Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

Heads of Service

£57,636 - £58,509 pa
It’s an exciting time to join us here in West Lancs as we are looking for 3 inspirational leaders who have the energy and drive to... Lancashire
Recruiter: West Lancashire Borough Council

Senior Engineer- Highways

£23,080- £30,451
Our Highways Service is growing to reflect the increase in investment. Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Environmental Data Officer

£26,592
In this role you will collect, maintain and manage high quality energy and environmental data, and providing... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Engineer - Highways Asset Maintenance

£39,854 to £43,741 (Pay Award Pending)
There’s never been a more exciting time to join Doncaster Council. Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Doncaster Council

Director of Environmental & Community Services

Up to £90,096 per annum
We seek an energetic and committed Director who has the right motivations and values; someone who is... Long Eaton, Nottingham
Recruiter: Erewash Borough Council

Transport Infrastructure Commissioning Officer

£30,451 to £34,728 per annum
We have a great opportunity in Somerset to join our Highways and Transport Service. Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Team Manager Band 3 – Environment Strategy & Change

£46,845 - £48,849 per annum
This is the perfect time to join St Helens and become part of our exhilarating journey and help build our legacy for the future. St Helens, Merseyside
Recruiter: St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Noise and Nuisance Officer

£32,301 - £35,949 per annum
To be successful in the Noise and Nuisance Team you will need a genuine commitment to... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Team Manager Band 3 - Fleet, Depot & Security

£46,845 - £48,849 per annum
This is the perfect time to join St Helens and become part of our exhilarating journey and help build our legacy for the future. St Helens, Merseyside
Recruiter: St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Asset Manager

£42,821 - £46,845 per annum
The Highway Asset Manager is responsible for the strategic management of all the council’s highway assets... Blackburn, Lancashire
Recruiter: Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

Digital Evidence Officer

£25.137 - £26.520
The Digital Evidence (CCTV) Team are responsible for improving community safety outcomes throughout the Royal Borough of Greenwich by... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Guaranteed Relief Cleaners North and South Kirklees Area

£9.25 per hour
Some of the key features and benefits of being part of the Kirklees Cleaning Service include... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Presents

 

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video