THE Scottish Government is to “initiate discussions” about a possible bridge to Northern Ireland, a spokesperson has said.

In January The National revealed how one leading architect had identified options for the erection of a road and rail crossing across the north channel of the Irish Sea.

Professor Alan Dunlop of Liverpool University said the structure could be built between Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway and Larne in Northern Ireland, potentially boosting both economies.

The intervention came after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested the creation of a link over the English Channel between England and France.

Brexit Minister Michael Russell has expressed his support for talks on a Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge and Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said it should be considered.

Now a Scottish Government spokesperson has told The View programme, which serves Northern Ireland, that Holyrood will “initiate discussions to explore improving connectivity between our two islands”.

The spokesperson continued: “Given the scale of any such fixed link, it is important that all options are fully considered.”

Dunlop’s suggestion comes after Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) floated a similar plan in its 2015 manifesto. Schemes from the 1890s also suggest creating tunnels between the land masses.

Critics say 31 mile long Beaufort’s Dyke, which runs more than 200 metres deep, would scupper the plan. More than one million tonnes of munitions have been dumped there, according to the Ministry of Defence.

However, Dunlop says there are ways to overcome this obstacle and claims a the “simplest connection and least expensive connection” would be between the Mull of Kintyre and the Antrim coast.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson says the link would overcome travel and freight disruptions caused by bad weather in the Irish Sea.

Also speaking to The View, Tina McKenzie of the Federation of Small Businesses said: “It is a very expensive investment like any of these things. We had the same conversation around the Channel Tunnel many years ago. But the question is, will it pay for itself over years now?

"To have a capital investment like that, we are going to create more jobs.

"Northern Ireland could be doing with more jobs. We could upskill our workforce more around the construction piece so it is a good investment for both Northern Ireland and Scotland."