UK ports broadly welcome the prioritisation of freight connections in the Westminster government’s Interim Connectivity Review, but warn against “unfeasible” proposals of a fixed link between NI and the rest of the UK.
The review, led by Sir Peter Hendy, acknowledges the critical need for strong freight and passenger links between the four nations of the UK. The BPA is broadly supportive of its recommendations, but the association took issue with government proposals for a fixed link between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Commenting on the review, BPA Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne said: “We welcome recognition of the criticality of maritime transport to union connectivity in the interim report published today by the Review… However, there is growing concern over the seriousness of suggestions of a fixed link between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
“We have multiple maritime links between Britain and Ireland which provide jobs and gateways to other locations. At best there appears to be negligible support amongst freight transport operators for this potentially immense infrastructure project…
“A fixed-link would represent a redundant and superfluous project – while far less money could be spent strengthening connections between the nations with far greater economic benefits drawn. Furthermore, when built, the link could drastically increase greenhouse gas emissions from transport…”
Proposals for a sea tunnel between Northern Ireland and the rest of the Union have drawn ridicule from many sectors. The Conservative Party’s own Simon Hoare, the Tory MP who chairs Westminster’s Northern Ireland affairs committee, has decried the proposal, saying: “Let’s concentrate on making the protocol work and put the hallucinogenics down.”