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MSP ‘unsurprised’ as bridge plans ditched

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By Donald Turvill
Front
MSP ‘unsurprised’ as bridge plans ditched

A SOUTH Scotland MSP has accused the Government of “empty rhetoric” as plans for a bridge from Dumfries and Galloway to Northern Ireland are expected to be scrapped.

Colin Smyth said “absolutely no one will be surprised” if reports the project will be officially shelved this week are correct.

A study looking at the feasibility of a 21-mile bridge across the Irish Sea from Portpatrick to Larne was commissioned by the UK Government earlier this year.

The proposal was backed by Boris Johnson, who said establishing a link between the two countries was a “very interesting idea”.

However, here in the region many have rejected the estimated £20 billion project and voiced frustration at the Prime Minister focusing on the ‘unrealistic’ bridge rather than improving existing transport infrastructure.

According to several media outlets, this week the feasibility study will advise against the plans being taken forward, with the Government expected to agree.

Reacting to the news, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “This is an example of yet more empty rhetoric from the UK Government and what is completely shocking is that they spent money on a feasibility study into building a structure which no-one truly believed could be built.

“Presumably someone has finally realised that we don’t have a Mediterranean climate in the Irish Sea and any bridge would have been closed for half of the year, not to mention the small issue of millions of tonnes of explosives lying in the path of any bridge structure in a deep channel.

“If these latest reports are accurate, absolutely no one will be surprised it’s been axed.”

Mr Smyth added he hopes the Government will now “move on” and called on administrations at Westminster and Holyrood to answer calls for investment in the A75 and A77.

The MSP continued: “As I said from the start, if the UK Government has billions of pounds to spend on transport links in the south west of Scotland, it would do better to spend the cash on reopening the Dumfries to Stranraer rail line and dualling the A75 and A77.

“Despite the importance of Cairnryan Ferry Port, road and rail links have been neglected again and again. Talk of building a bridge or a tunnel might grab headlines but people who live in the area and those who use the ferries on a regular basis need real solutions now to the many transport problems which have existed for years.”

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