UK minister seeks meeting with Scottish Government over island tunnels

A UK minister hoping to explore plans to build a network of tunnels between Scotland's islands has requested a meeting with the SNP’s transport minister to discuss the idea.

Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart argues the Faroe Islands – where the world's first undersea roundabout opened in 2020 – show what can be done.

He has now contacted the private office of Jenny Gilruth to seek a meeting in the “near future”.

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Network of tunnels should be considered for Scotland's islands, says UK minister
Inside a Faroe Islands tunnelInside a Faroe Islands tunnel
Inside a Faroe Islands tunnel

Ms Gilruth previously said the Scottish Government would be “more than willing to hear” from Mr Stewart.

It comes after Mr Stewart made a "fact-finding" visit to the Faroes, a series of 18 islets in the North Atlantic, last week.

He said the tunnels there cost around £20 million per kilometre to construct.

The minister said linking islands in an archipelago such as Shetland "seems sensible", but larger distances – such as between Orkney and Shetland – would likely be unfeasible.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, insisted fixed links “are more than just a pipe dream”.

He said: "What has happened in the Faroes is a clear indication of the transformational potential of these connections.

“This is about more than just reducing our reliance on ferry infrastructure or indeed any other short-term considerations – by linking up our communities we can make the isles more attractive for local people and newcomers alike, improving our economy and our services for decades to come.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “The SNP have continually let down our islanders by failing to deliver lifeline ferries. Even those ferries that are still in operation have been repeatedly hit by mechanical failures and are often out of action.

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“Islanders just want a reliable way to get to and from the mainland for work, hospital appointments and other life activities. Proposals to use tunnels as an alternative will need to be scrutinised in more detail.

“However, given the mess SNP ministers continue to make on delivering ferries, this suggestion is definitely worth exploring to see how viable it would be in order to serve our island communities, who have been let down for far too long.”



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