We don’t need a bridge to France – but one to Ireland

The Donghai Bridge in China

Michael Williams

We’re continually told that Wales is a drain on the rest of the UK, and that we couldn’t survive alone.

But there are plenty of ways we could kick-start our economy if we wanted to, and one of those would be to build a bridge or tunnel to Ireland.

Wales is already the gateway to Ireland via our ferry ports in Holyhead and Fishguard, although there are real questions as to whether they’ll be fit for purpose if we leave the single market.

If we do leave, a bridge would become essential in order to keep the traffic moving. You could drive to Ireland in half an hour, with little or no waiting times.

It would also be a massive boost to Wales’ and Ireland’s economy.

As a midpoint between Dublin and London, Wales would be the place to be for businesses.

Compare this project with the Channel Tunnel. The tunnel facilitated trade worth £91.4 billion to the UK economy in 2014. 25% of UK trade with the EU comes through the tunnel.

It allowed the development of integrated cross-border supply chains, boosted tourism and increased the number of high-quality jobs on both sides of the Irish Sea.

I know what you’re thinking – you can’t build a bridge that long!

It’s 55 miles between Fishguard and Wexford, and 57 between Holyhead and Dublin. Impossible!

Not at all. The world’s longest bridge is already almost double that. The Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge in China, part of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, is 102 miles long.

But what about the cost? The Channel Tunnel at over 30 miles long cost £5 billion to build (£12 billion in today’s money) but as already noted the economic benefit has far, far exceeded that.

And if the Wales-Ireland bridge doubled up as a producer of tidal wave energy it could, in the long run, pay for its own upkeep.

With the modern technology at our disposal, and the demand for ease of travel between Ireland and the UK as a gateway to the rest of Europe, there’s no good reason not to build a bridge.

All that is needed is a little bit of ambition and vision from our politicians to get the project started.


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JD
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JD

Is this the Friday ‘joke’ article?

Muddy Valley
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Muddy Valley

I must admit JD I did think it was suddenly April already myself. Still it can’t all be serious debate and conjecture here, can it?

sibrydionmawr
Guest

And there lies a problem. Where do we find politicians with vision?

sianiflewog
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sianiflewog

Wel – syniad, ‘nde! It is true that the nearest city with a sovereign head of state to many of us in Cymru is Dulyn/Baile Atha Cliath/Dublin. Such a bridge would be incredibly expensive: would it ever justify its cost? It would also be vulnerable to ships bumping into it and to our lovely (at times) 100 mph gales. The bridges over the Afon Menai often are closed due to strong winds and they are ‘sheltered’. A tunnel would be a safer bet, but even more expenseve and the irish sea is an active fault zone, and we have a… Read more »

malinosa
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malinosa

why do we need a bridge? I thought Mcevoy could walk on water and…….cheaper than a bridge. or a flotilla of coracles would be even cheaperer

boicymraeg
Guest

There are many factors to consider with a bridge other than its height. The bridge in China you mention is actually a viaduct, a 102 mile version of your average city flyover. Its longest unsupported span is 80m, substantially less than the main span of the Second Severn Crossing (450m). Whilst undoubtedly a significant structure and no doubt an expensive thing to build, it’s well established technology just on a much bigger scale. The Victorians could have built such a bridge, if they’d been inclined to. A bridge from Wales to Ireland would be a completely different proposition. The Irish… Read more »

Angharad
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I am not sure a bridge would be realistic, but a sea-bed tunnel has been mooted in the past. So, a structure, lying on the sea bed, rather than bored underneath it.
Is it realistic? I’ll leave that to geologists and oceanographers to answer!
But your half hour estimate is going to require speeds of in excess of 100 mph. And driving long tunnels is not easy! Having driven both the Lærdal tunnel (15 miles) and the Gotthard tunnel (10.5 miles), I have to say I don’t think I would fancy driving a tunnel this length.

Tame Frontiersman
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Tame Frontiersman

1. Great idea! And it will be beautiful! – Build the bridge and make the Mexicans – I mean the Irish pay for it! 2. Creating a structure which could carry road vehicles and trains* AND extract energy from waves, currents and wind – now that might be interesting Note: Mott Macdonald are being paid £300,000 for conducting a feasibility study on reopening the railway line from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth – pedestrian 19th Century technology. Imagine what the feasibility study for this might cost, probably only to see the project kicked into the long grass! Might we start by funding… Read more »

Tame Frontiersman
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Tame Frontiersman

Paragraph 184 of Section M3 of Schedule 1 of the Wales Act 2017 reserves “Planning (including the subject-matter of Parts 2 to 8 of the Planning Act 2008) …..in relation to (a) relevant nationally significant infrastructure projects…. (c) railways, other than railways that start, end and remain in Wales,” to Westminster.

Graham John Hathaway
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Graham John Hathaway

How many radical ideas began ‘ is this a joke’. How much revenue has the Severn Bridge netted. Have we a history of developing great engineers and scientists. These ideas are however worthless as a wet rag. We can’t afford a full electrification of Welsh railway lines, a valley metro valley lines, Swansea barrage and fill the pot holes in our major roads. Let alone think big on major infrastructure that needs investment.
I wonder what the solution is. Third world thinking comes to mind. For another generation unless we change our political colours and take ownership of our destiny.

Adam York
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Adam York
Denise
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Denise

A very interesting article by my son and I am proud of his vision. If nothing else this article has provoked some interesting comments, ideas and theories.

Keith Parry
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Keith Parry

Bridges are wanted third crossing of Menai Straights and flood proof bridge north of Machynlleth.

CambroUiDunlainge
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CambroUiDunlainge

A tunnel maybe. Either way… sounds better than a skiff to Wicklow.