Arran could be ‘stepping stone’ for Boris bridge link

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The prospect of Arran being part of a bridge system connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland was being discussed again this week.

In what at another time of the year could be perceived as an April Fool, an eminent Scottish architect is seriously suggesting a chain of three floating bridges, two linking Arran to the mainland, could be used for Boris Johnson’s ‘vanity’ £20 billion bridge.

Architect Alan Dunlop, who first proposed the bridge plan two years ago, said Glasgow could be linked directly with Ulster if Arran is used as a ‘stepping stone’.

But a tunnel submerged 20 metres below the Irish Sea may still be needed to make the plan work.

Another shorter route which could be planned would see the 12 miles between Ireland’s Torr Head and the Mull of Kintyre, would be a viable option.

This could lead to a small connection between Kintyre and Arran to link the two bridge routes together.

Mr Dunlop estimated that the cost of this route would be in the region of £20 billion to £24 billion, based on a study of previous bridges, according to The Times newspaper.

The alternative, a 26-mile crossing from Portpatrick to Larne, would cost £15 billion to £20 billion.

Just after he became Tory leader the prime minster was reported to have asked Government officials to look into the costs and risks. And he raised the idea when he was Foreign Secretary too, claiming it would shore up the union.

The bridge, made of steel and concrete, would consist of two levels – one for cars and one for a railway.

Part of it could be a tunnel too, as a way of dealing with the offshore dumpsite Beaufort’s Dyke. Unexploded World War Two bombs are believed to be one of the risks of the project, which lie near the dump.

An artificial island around 2.5 miles long and 500 yards wide is likely to link the bridge to the tunnel.

Mr Dunlop, who has yet to be approached by anyone from government about the bridge, added: ‘What needs to happen now is a proper feasibility study by people with the right skills.’