THE architect behind the so-called “Boris Bridge” between Scotland and Ireland has launched a furious defence of the project, describing it as “an investment in the true north”.

Professor Alan Dunlop’s “Celtic Bridge” plan was first unveiled by The National back in 2018, and has won the support of some powerful people, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

READ MORE: Alan Dunlop: Doubt the Celtic Bridge? Look what’s being done abroad

On Monday, a Number 10 spokesman confirmed that “a range of government officials” were looking at a scoping report on the project which it is estimated will cost between £15 billion and £20bn.

Johnson’s spokesperson told journalists: “The Prime Minister has said it would have some merit – as a result you would expect government to be looking into it.”

The National:

There is, however, a fair amount of scepticism about the practicalities of building the bridge. Both Labour and SNP politicians have suggested the project is being used to divert attention from Johnson’s domestic difficulties.

His own Scottish MPs or MSPs have been keeping unusually quiet about the project.

The sea between Scotland and Northern Ireland isn’t the easiest place in the world to build a bridge.

In a letter to the Sunday Times –which soon went viral – James Duncan, a retired offshore engineer from Edinburgh, said the bridge to Ireland was “about as feasible as building a bridge to the Moon”.

“Many long bridges have been built,” he wrote, “but none across such a wide, deep and stormy stretch of water. For a great part of the 22-mile route the water is more than 1000ft deep.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon says bridge funding should be sent to Holyrood

Duncan claimed the bridge “would require about 30 support towers at least 1400ft high to carry the road deck across the deepest part and above the shipping channel. In total the bridge would require 54 towers, of heights never achieved anywhere in the world”. He said Beaufort’s Dyke, a 30-mile long and two-mile wide trench in the North Channel, used by the British military to dispose of old explosives after the end of the Second World War, would be a particular problem.

“The Ministry of Defence estimates the total dumped at more than 1.5 million tons. There are no maps of their locations,” he wrote.

“No sane contractor or responsible government would consider building such a bridge,” Duncan said, “and because of the weather conditions it would probably have to be closed for considerable periods if it did.”

“The proposal is just another thoughtless soundbite,” he added, “this is typical Johnson.”

The National:

Yesterday in the Commons, the SNP’s Alison Thewliss (above) asked Johnson if he could “abandon the project and give the money to the Northern Irish and Scottish Governments directly so that we can invest in priorities for Scotland and Northern Ireland, rather than his fantasy plans”.

The Prime Minister replied: “We will bring forward proposals in due course.”

The prospect of a bridge was, however, welcomed by the DUP’s Sammy Wilson who said it would connect “the thigh bone, the knee bone and the ankle bone” of the UK to the “red hand of Ulster”.

READ MORE: WATCH: Boris Johnson urged by SNP MP to ditch 'fantasy bridge' plan

Writing in today’s The National, Professor Alan Dunlop, who first floated the plan for the connection, said a road and rail crossing from Larne to Portpatrick is “architecturally possible and would boost tourism and trade for both sides of the crossing, while providing an extra needed physical link after Brexit”.

He suggested that Beaufort’s Dyke could be passed over with “floating bridges, to overcome the depth and non-contact with the sea bed".

Dunlop added that failure to progress with the bridge would indicate a real lack of political vision. The case for the connection is not only “about economic benefit to the Ayrshire and Antrim coasts or Cowal peninsula but also about establishing closer social, cultural and political relations between Scotland and Ireland in the shifting post-Brexit climate,” he said.