A tunnel as an Irish Sea fixed link?

6 October 2020

A tunnel connecting Great Britain to Northern Ireland could be a recommendation of the review of potential infrastructural improvements across the UK launched recently by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The independent review is to be headed by Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy and will look at how transport infrastructure can be boosted across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and whether this means improving existing connections or creating new ones. 

The study aims to provide recommendations on a wide range of possible options to improve the quality and availability of transport links across the UK. As well as reviewing road, rail and air links, it will also explore the cost, practicality and demand for a new fixed link between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  

The review will also consider the part future technologies will play and assess the environmental impacts of current and future infrastructure.  

Although Johnson has mooted the idea of a bridge several times, the idea for a £20bn road tunnel beneath the Irish Sea has also been suggested by government officials. One suggested model is the Oresund Bridge and Drogden Tunnel which connect Sweden with Denmark. The combined fixed link comprises an 8km bridge from Sweden to an artificial island, the route continuing through a 4km immersed-tube tunnel to complete the crossing to Denmark.  

The Hendry review is expected to be published in September 2021 and will advise on whether investments in new infrastructure need to be made.