Tunnels considered in Scottish islands transport plan

5 February 2024

Tunnels connecting Scotland’s Western Isles, Mull and the mainland are among proposals suggested in a Transport Scotland document published last week.

The islands are currently served by ferries but in its Islands Connectivity Plan, Transport Scotland says a previous review identified fixed links could improve reliability, connectivity, capacity and travel times, and allow for the wider reconfiguration of ferry services.

The paper proposes further work to look at three potential links to replace current ferry services for:

  • Sound of Harris - linking the Uists and Harris/Lewis
  • Sound of Barra - linking Barra and the Uists
  • Mull and the Scottish mainland

Image credit: Nils Leonhardt / Unsplash

Transport Scotland acknowledges, however, that some island communities were concerned that fixed links would result in a loss of island identity, increased road traffic and subsequent environmental impact and a reduction in local services because of the connection being both on and off the island.

“Due consideration will be given to bridges, tunnels and causeways before selecting the most suitable option for each of these routes. The focus will be on providing a resilient connection for our island communities who wish to be connected,” the organisation says in the document.

The Islands Connectivity Plan is now open for public consultation.

In the Shetland islands, two community groups are campaigning for tunnels to connect the islands of Unst and Yell to mainland Shetland, routes currently served by ferries.