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by Staff reporter
17 November 2021
UK Government owes parliaments £20bn after abandoned Northern Ireland bridge plans, SNP claims

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UK Government owes parliaments £20bn after abandoned Northern Ireland bridge plans, SNP claims

The SNP has claimed the UK Government owes Holyrood and Stormont £20bn after plans for a bridge to Northern Ireland were abandoned.

Boris Johnson backed the creation of a “fixed link” between Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2018 and officials began carrying out a study into the possibility of such a link in early 2020.

But it was announced in September that it would not be going ahead, with Johnson saying the plan had been downgraded to an “ambition”.

The SNP is now arguing the funding for the scheme should be reallocated to the governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland, since transport is a devolved matter.

The £20bn plan was widely criticised when it first surfaced as being unworkable in terms of both engineering and price.

But Johnson has insisted the plans were serious, despite former aid Dominic Cummings later branding it “the world’s most stupid tunnel”.

SNP MSP Fergus Ewing made the comments ahead of a Scottish Conservative-led debate on transport on Wednesday afternoon.

He said: “Their party leader made this proposal which would have meant £20bn of investment so he should still be honouring that. The Tories owe Scotland and Northern Ireland £20bn for transport spending.

“If they are unable to then it will once again demonstrate how the UK Tory government holds the people of Scotland in complete contempt.”

The Scottish Tories will use the debate to call for prioritisation of road-building projects, including reaffirming the commitment to dual the A9 and A96, and upgrading the  A1, A75, A77, A82, A83 and A90.

It follows concerns that road building projects could be shelved as part of Scotland’s climate ambitions.

Last week, Ewing urged planning minister Tom Arthur to confirm a new framework “does not and will not in any way, manner or means delays, detract, diminish or dilute” the A9 commitment.

The minister said there had been “no change to the government’s policy” but highlighted the need to minimise travel by “unsustainable modes”.

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