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Should a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland be built?

© Efraim Stochter

This week the Prime Minister said that building a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland could be “a very good idea” and that it would cost around £15 billion.

The plan for a new bridge that could unite Ireland with the rest of the UK was made public on Wednesday, and the civil service has been working on assessing its feasibility.

Two possible connections being considered include a bridge that goes from the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland to Torr Head. Another, would go from Portpatrick to Larne in Northern Ireland. However the construction of the bridge would come with risks due to a number of factors unique to the seabed in that area. It is estimated that there are more than 1 million tonnes of WW2 weapons munitions that were dumped and could pose a challenge to any future construction.

Despite the risks, there are considerable upsides that include creating the first land connection to the island of Ireland, uniting the British Isles for the first time. There would be economic benefits allowing the transport of goods by road across the bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland, England, Wales and further to the continent by land. Tourism would also be boosted as people from Scotland and Northern Ireland could traverse the bridge by car, opening up new economic opportunities for local businesses.

The bridge could also seek to resolve the longstanding issue of the backstop in the crucial Brexit negotiations, solving the issue of a border down the Irish Sea and connecting Northern Ireland’s economy to the rest of the UK mainland without customs checks. Other options have been proposed to solve the backstop problem ahead of the Prime Minister’s scheduled trip to meet European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier next week.