A bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland and a tunnel under the North Sea to Norway are among links supported by Britain’s van drivers.
Specialist vehicle suppliers LeaseVan looked at which potential future engineering innovations would be most welcomed by van drivers, with a second Channel Tunnel connecting Suffolk to the Netherlands also featuring in suggestions.
Van drivers said routes better connecting remote parts of the UK with cities, along with tunnels or bridges connecting Britain to mainland Europe and Ireland, would offer more opportunities to UK businesses.
Irish Sea Links
LeaseVan experts said a road bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland was something many of their customers would like to see as it would help businesses in both the UK and Irish Republic.
Last year prime minister Boris Johnson proposed a widely criticised plan for a bridge across the Irish Sea.
Since then, various options have been put forward for a crossing. In March of this year, Alan Dunlop – the architect who first proposed plans for a crossing – said that a Northern Ireland to Scotland tunnel could cost up to £16bn less than a bridge. This came after secretary of state for Scotland Alister Jack said that a tunnel was an option favoured by the UK Government due to its comparatively lower cost.
In April, Northern Ireland infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon said a bridge would be a “waste of significant money”, while Scottish transport, infrastructure and connectivity secretary Michael Matheson labelled the scheme a “vanity project”.
Meanwhile, this month it was announced that Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy CBE will lead an independent review into UK transport connections, which will consider the feasibility of a bridge or tunnel between the two countries.
Similar super bridges in Scandinavia connect Denmark, Sweden and Norway and have helped to open up the economies there while in Hong Kong the Zhuhai-Macau bridge spans more than 45km of sea water.
Other dream routes for van drivers include a tunnel underneath the Irish Sea from Holyhead to Dublin which would reduce journey time from 3 hours 15 minutes to just over an hour.
Van drivers would also like to see a tunnel under the Bristol Channel from Ilfracombe in north Devon to Swansea in south Wales which would reduce journeys in the south west.
A bridge from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight was another innovation which the LeaseVan team said would make life easier for van drivers, while in the east of England a second Channel tunnel connecting Felixstowe with The Hague would ease transport to mainland Europe.
The experts said a series of bridges and tunnels in Scotland could connect John O’Groats to Orkney and on to the Shetlands, turning the Northern Isles into a north Atlantic Florida Keys style archipelago.
Finally, a further tunnel under the North Sea from Shetland to Bergen in Norway would open up Scandinavia and the Arctic Circle to both UK freight and tourism with thousands flocking to see the Northern Lights.
A spokesman for LeaseVan admitted the routes were little more than a wish list at this stage but said all of them would have economic benefits for the UK.
“Of course none of these innovations would be cheap. We have seen a figure of £20bn discussed for the Scotland to Northern Ireland bridge alone and that is perhaps the most simple of our proposed routes,” the spokesperson said.
“And as well as the required financial investment there are also the environmental concerns which would, of course, have to be seriously considered. But if these routes do turn out to be feasible then they would have major economic benefits for the UK. They would also make it a doddle for van drivers to pop over to Dublin for a day’s plumbing or even to nip to Norway for a plastering job.”
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