NICOLA Sturgeon has expressed scepticism over Boris Johnson’s plans to build a bridge between Scotland and Ireland.

The First Minister said she thought the idea of a “celtic crossing” was a “diversionary” tactic from Number 10.

Her comments came as Downing Street confirmed that government officials were working on a scoping report looking at the possibility of a bridge between Scotland and Ireland.

Asked about the plans during an event in Brussels, Sturgeon said it would face big practical challenges in terms of feasibility and deliverability. 

She said: “Boris Johnson has promised lots of physical bridges in his political career so far. He hasn’t delivered, to the best of my knowledge, a single one of them.

“I bow to nobody in my ambitions for Scotland, and my ambitions for Scotland to be connected to Ireland and to Europe.

“But I do think there are big practical questions over the feasibility and deliverability of this – not just the distance, but the depth of the water, there’s an old munitions dump underneath it.

“We’ll see where it goes. I certainly don’t close my eyes, or close my mind, to suggestions like this. But I suspect from Boris Johnson it’s more a diversionary tactic – to have people talking about that rather than some of the real issues we are grappling with in both Scotland and Ireland.

“I would say, if you’ve got £20bn or whatever it might take to build such a bridge going spare just now, I’m sure the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland executive could find lots of ways to spend it on possibly more important priorities.”

Reports over the weekend suggested engineers were looking at the construction of a combined bridge and tunnel connection at the narrowest point, apparently modelled on the Oresund Bridge, which runs for five miles from the Swedish coast near Malmo to an artificial island in the middle of the Oresund Strait.

It was The National who first reported on the prospect of a crossing between Scotland and Ireland, back in 2018 when we shared the plans of architect Professor Alan Dunlop. He estimated that the bridge would cost about £15 billion.

Yesterday, both The Sun and the Mail on Sunday, revealed that Johnson remains a enthusiastic supporter of the plan, despite warnings about spiralling costs and difficult conditions, including dealing with depths of more than 1000ft.

Other problems that would need to be overcome include Beaufort’s Dyke, a submarine trench seven miles off the coast of Portpatrick, used in the 1950s by the Ministry of Defence to dump more than 1m tonnes of obsolete munitions, including 14,500 tons of five inch artillery rockets filled with phosgene gas, in addition to two tons of concrete-encased metal drums filled with radioactive waste.

During the morning briefing for journalists, Johnson’s official spokesman told reporters that work is underway looking into the idea of the bridge.

He said the Prime Minister is ambitious in terms of infrastructure projects and looking at a wide range of schemes across the United Kingdom that could boost productivity.

Another potential difficulty for the Prime Minister, is that given yesterday’s result in the Irish election and the prospect of a unification poll in the next five years, and given the Scottish Government’s desire to hold indyref2, there’s a possibility that by the time the bridge is finished it could end up connecting two countries no longer part of the UK.