New images of bridge to link Scotland with Northern Ireland released
The first image of the bridge that could connect Scotland and Northern Ireland has been revealed.
Professor Alan Dunlop shared the drawing after his idea won widespread political support on both sides of the water.
The architect has now called for the Scottish Government to work with counterparts in Ireland and Westminster to undertake a full feasibility study into the major infrastructure project.
Prof Dunlop has proposed two options for the bridge which could connect either Larne and Portpatrick or Mull of Kintyre with Torr Head.
Today, the architect spoke at the Urbanism at Borders conferene at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen to press the case for the bridge, which could cost between £15bn and £20bn.
Prof Dunlop said: “The conference was about architecture and borders and the problem with borders. Wanting to reduce the border between Scotland and Ireland seems to be highly relevant at the moment.
“The relationship between UK, Scotland and Ireland seems to be in a state of flux.
“This seems to be an opportune moment to talk about how a major infrastructure project could effectively break down borders.”
Prof Dunlop raised the possibility of a bridge connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland earlier this year with Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney, DUP leader Arlene Foster and Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell speaking in support of the plan.
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the prospect of the bridge should be “seriously” looked at.
The architect said Scotland had both the engineering and architectural talent to build the project, which he described as a potential “transformative economic generator”.
It was time to have a full feasibility study on the proposals, he added.
“I’d like to see the UK government working with the Irish and Scottish governments to look at the potential of this.
“It may not be economically beneficial, there might not be a return. We need a feasibility study to look at both options then we can see what can seriously be considered.”
Prof Dunlop highlighted the impact of the Norwegian Coastal Highway, a 680 mile route which will cross 20 fjords between Kirstiansand and Trondheim using floating bridges and tunnels.
Around £30bn is being invested in the project.
He told the conference at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen: “The Norwegian Coastal Highway is a pioneering and remarkable infrastructure project and a sign of confidence for a forward-looking innovative country.
“Scotland and Ireland surely can achieve the same.”
He also pointed to the Øresund Bridge that connects Demmark with Sweden. It has made a £10bn return on the initial investment since its opening 18 years ago.
The bridge has created a swell of economic activity. Around 17,600 people, including 2,500 students, commute
across the bridge everyday.
They are mainly Danes who have relocated to Sweden because of lower housing and living costs and Swedes who have joined the Danish labour market owing to a shortage of jobs, higher wages and the larger and more diverse labour market in Copenhagen.
Alan Dunlop is a visiting professor at Robert Gordon University, Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, and the University of Liverpool. He ran a successful practice in Glasgow for many years.
The Scottish Government has been approached for a comment.