An NI-Scotland bridge is a fine idea, even if it is far into the future

It was encouraging to hear Arlene Foster canvassing support in Cowdenbeath at the weekend for a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Monday, 2nd July 2018, 1:45 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:58 pm
Morning View

The notion of such a structure has been mocked in some quarters as so expensive as to be fanciful.

Such a bridge would indeed be extraordinarily expensive and even if it was given the green light tomorrow it would probably not be completed for decades.

But while it is an idea that is unlikely to come to fruition any time soon, it is not fanciful and it has been backed in theory by people including the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

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The points at which such a bridge might be built, for example between Portpatrick and either Larne or Donaghadee, are between 20 and 25 miles apart.

It is roughly the same distance as Dover to Calais on the English Channel. However, it would be a much more tricky feat than a bridge across the latter because the North Channel is a considerably deeper body of water.

But the tunnel under the English Channel, which was opened in 1994, was more than a century in the planning.

We need to think big and think long term.

If, for example, China was to build a vast bridge between two important pieces of land 20 miles apart, it would be seen as a sign of how bold and far-sighted that rapidly emerging nation is when it comes to mega infrastructure.

Some of the same people who you might expect to say that the UK is at risk of being left behind by China seem then to scoff at a link between Ulster and Scotland.

But barring a global human catastrophe, such a physical link will probably one day be built.

It is more a question of whether it will be in the next 50 years or 350 years.

People have been shuttling back and forth across the North Channel for millennia – and long before the plantation.

We are closely inter-related peoples on these islands and so it is good at least to be talking about building a bridge.