DESCRIBING Prime Minister Boris Johnston’s proposed feasibility study into building a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland as a ‘vanity project’. Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has asked for ‘immediate discussions’ with Westminster regarding the releasing of £20 billion to build the bridge on one hand, but more appropriately, to release this sum to the devolved governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland to invest in infrastructure that will improve living standards and boost the respective economies.
In a pointed and frank letter to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Mr Matheson expressed his surprise on hearing the PM’s announcement without any prior discussion.
‘In both Northern Ireland and Scotland, budget constraints from successive UK Governments, have for a number of years restricted necessary investment in public transport and vital infrastructure and held back progress for our communities,’ he wrote.
‘I therefore request immediate discussions with your officials on releasing to us the £20bn of funding you have identified, so it can be invested in the priorities of Northern Ireland and Scotland.
‘By spending just a fraction of the cost of this bridge, I believe we could bring significantly more benefits to the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland, making a real difference to improving lives,’ continued Mr Matheson.
‘I am concerned that pursuit of this in light of the already identified technical, logistical and safety challenges such as the Beaufort’s Dyke munitions dump could waste significant money and resource that could be put to better use on practical, deliverable projects.’