Johnson’s ‘bonkers’ plan for £15bn bridge derided by engineers

Engineering specialists have poured bloodless water over Boris Johnson’s “bonkers” plan to construct a bridge among Scotland and northerly eire for £15bn.

The prime minister – who first touted the idea of the 20-mile-plus bridge closing yr – positioned a price on his concept for the first time final week, pronouncing it would “handiest” value the multibillion pound sum.

However experts have said that, whilst it’d technically be viable to assemble the bridge connecting Scotland’s mainland with the outskirts of Belfast, it’s miles potentially fraught with issues and the prices may want to spiral.

One eminent engineer, who become at the back of London’s Millennium bridge, instructed the parent it became “bonkers” to put a fee on the plan before a right layout changed into in region. Some other engineering academic labelled the inspiration “dubious economics”.

It comes after leaked documents emerged on Tuesday that found out that Johnson had ordered government officers to explore the opportunity of building the bridge. On Thursday, at some stage in a go to, the top minister instructed schoolchildren: “[I was talking yesterday] about building a bridge from Stranraer in Scotland to Larne in Northern eire – that could be superb. It’d best value approximately £15bn.”

James Duncan, from Edinburgh, raised issues over the practicality of building a bridge throughout the “stormy” stretch of water – greater than 1,000ft deep in locations – which could require dozens of help towers at heights “in no way completed everywhere in the world”. Bridge builders could also have to navigate Beaufort’s Dyke, a submarine trench wherein the Ministry of Defence dumped greater than 1m tonnes of out of date munitions following the end of the second global war.

Chris smart, the engineering clothier of the 2012 Olympic velodrome, said he supported the principle of connecting the 2 nations however raised a series of query marks over the practicality of the thought. “It’s socially admirable but technically clueless,” he informed the parent. “If Boris desires to stay prime minister he wishes to forestall promising figures earlier than he can supply them.”

Clever, the engineering director at the back of London’s Millennium bridge, explained: “Technically, there’s a solution that is to build some thing in dry dock, tow it out, sink it into position. But whilst you’re speakme approximately some thing this is going to be the same height because the Eiffel Tower before you even get to sea stage that’s a prime, foremost beast.

“It probably means you’re no longer going to be placing any supports in there [to hold up the bridge] so then the query is whether the span you’re left with is some thing this is attainable. Because the largest bridges within the world are best a mile, or a mile and a chunk lengthy for an person span [without a support].”

Clever said he was also involved through the optimistic £15bn fee tag. “If the entirety from the Olympics to HS2 are anything to move by using, to quote the range and the rate of any of these publicly funded tasks this early with out a design, for my part, is bonkers,” he stated.

“You don’t know what something is going to value till you understand what you’re going to build. So except Boris is sitting on a design that no person else is aware of about, which he may be, I assume it’s a bit foolhardy to put a price inside the public area. They constantly cross up, they in no way go down. However it sounds cheap to me.”

Dr John McKinley, a senior lecturer in environmental engineering at Queen’s college Belfast, also raised doubts. “Like a variety of infrastructure questions, a bridge or tunnel across the Irish Sea is viable engineering but dubious economics,” he said.

“The concept has been floating round for the reason that Eighteen Eighties and seems to come back around every 30 to 40 years. The shortest distance would connect Northern eire and Scotland, but that entails going thru Beaufort’s Dyke, a two hundred- to three hundred-metre deep channel inside the center of the Irish Sea.

“For a bridge, you will want help piers greater or much less identical in length to the biggest civil engineers have built up to now. For a tunnel the underwater part could both be about 3 times the period of that for the Channel tunnel or go approximately 4 times as deep. Connecting Belfast to Glasgow, adorable locations though I think they both are, isn’t as glaringly a terrific thing as connecting London to Paris.”

David Barwell, the United Kingdom and ireland CEO of AECOM – one of the world’s largest engineering firms – stated: “Engineers, we will come up with any which way you need to get something like this completed. You may do it … there would be an engineering solution. I suppose the subsequent piece, the other piece which people are asking is, ‘good enough, nicely there’s an engineering answer, but at what value?’”

A central authority spokeswoman said: “The top minister has regularly spoken approximately his help for infrastructure initiatives that growth connectivity for people and particularly those that strengthen the union. As you’d expect, the authorities regularly commissions paintings to have a look at the feasibility of potential projects.”

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