Boris Johnson
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  • Boris Johnson is pushing ahead with plans for a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  • The bridge is reportedly set to be constructed across the largest munitions dump in the world.
  • One retired offshore engineer described the project as being "as feasible as building a bridge to the moon" adding that "no sane... government" would attempt it.
  • Sources inside Downing Street confirmed to Business Insider that Johnson remains personally committed to the project despite doubts about its viability.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Boris Johnson is deadly serious about building a bridge connecting Scotland with Northern Ireland, and is preparing to give the project the green light.

The prime minister has previously said a bridge connecting the two countries across the North Channel would be a "very good" idea, despite warnings about cost as well as unexploded bombs in the sea dropped after World War Two.

Now Johnson has instructed civil servants to look at how the project can be delivered, and is awaiting an official assessment on whether it is feasible.

A spokesperson for Johnson said on Monday "work is underway" on the project, adding that: "It's an idea that the prime minister has expressed interest in in the past, and as he said at the time: 'watch this space'."

They added that government officials were carrying out a "proper piece of work" on the proposal.

Downing Street sources confirmed to Business Insider that Johnson remains personally committed to the project despite doubts expressed about its viability both inside and outside government.

'As feasible as building a bridge to the moon'

The Oresund bridge is reportedly the inspiration for Boris Johnson's proposed bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland.
NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Officials reportedly believe the bridge could be based on the Oresund Bridge, which connects the Swedish city of Malmo with Amager, a Danish island near the country's capital, Copenhagen.

Officials working on the plans have produced a route from Larne in Northern Ireland to Portpatrick in Scotland.

Reports suggest the proposed construction will be part bridge and part tunnel, in order to avoid unexploded bombs in the water. The Beaufort's Dyke, seven miles (11 kilometres) off the Scottish coastal village of Portpatrick, is the site of millions of tonnes of rockets, metal drums, and radioactive waste, dumped there following World War Two.

The project is currently estimated to cost around £20 billion (R384 billion). However, costs could spiral due to the need for connecting infrastructure on either side of the bridge.

Prime Minister Johnson first suggested the idea of a bridge across the Irish Sea when he was foreign secretary in 2018. He has revived it since entering Downing Street as part of his plans for major infrastructure projects across the UK.

His proposal was, at the time, branded by one expert as a "thoughtless soundbite" that "no sane contractor or responsible government" would sanction.

Writing to The Sunday Times last year, James Duncan, a retired offshore engineer from Edinburgh, said the idea was "about as feasible as building a bridge to the moon."

"Many long bridges have been built, but none across such a wide, deep and stormy stretch of water," he continued.

"For a great part of the 22-mile (35 kilomtres) route the water is more than 1,000 feet (304 metres) deep. It would require about 30 support towers at least 1,400 feet (426 kilometres) high to carry the road deck across the deepest part and above the shipping channel. In total the bridge would require 54 towers, of heights never achieved anywhere in the world."

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