An undersea tunnel from Scotland to Northern Ireland could get the go-ahead within weeks, with a study on the project expected imminently.
The 25-mile long connection, dubbed “Boris’s burrow”, is said to be possible in a UK transport infrastructure report by the head of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy.
The study, reported in the Telegraph on Sunday, could start the consultation process for the project, which Scotland secretary Alister Jack has already thrown his support behind.
Jack told a Holyrood committee that he preferred the idea of a tunnel to a bridge, which would be estimated to cost around £20bn.
The UK Government believes the tunnel will combat some of the effects Brexit has had on links between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
But Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson has previously rubbished the idea of a fixed link between the nations as Prime Ministers Boris Johnson’s “vanity project”.
Matheson also raised concerns about Beaufort’s Dyke, a 30- mile long munitions dump in the North Channel that lies in the path of the previously proposed bridge.
Jack told the Telegraph: “You say bridge. I say tunnel. I think a bridge would be closed for probably 100 days a year with the weather in the Irish Sea.”
“My strong inclination would be that he (Johnson) thinks it should be a tunnel.
“He and I have had conversations about weather patterns in the Irish Sea and Beaufort’s Dyke, and there’s a munitions deposit there. Tunnels deal with all those problems.”