AS a resident of a village near the ferry ports at Cairnryan, where nearly 4,000 vehicles pass through on a daily basis heading north to Glasgow and the Central Belt, I have been closely following the debate about the idea that a bridge should be built to connect Northern Ireland to this part of south-west Scotland.

I have absolutely no doubt that given the correct design to meet the most challenging weather and environmental conditions, the best engineers and builders and a bottomless budget, we could indeed build such a complex construction.

And then what? Do the architects/advocates of this scheme know where Portpatrick actually is? Have they ever visited the village by car or public transport?

The road out of Portpatrick is single carriageway. To head north on the A77 to Glasgow travellers need to negotiate the streets of Stranraer, and the same applies if you want to connect to the A75, which is the road used by traffic heading from here to England. On a good day and with a fair wind, the journey time by car to Glasgow or Carlisle from Portpatrick is more than two hours. There is no dual carriageway going north until you reach Ayr and no motorway until you reach Kilmarnock (check a map if you don’t know where they are in relation to Portpatrick). Going south, there are only a few overtaking opportunities towards Dumfries, then you face 23 miles of single carriageway from there to Gretna, and the M6.

A bridge over the North Channel will not make these connections any better. Without a complete roads upgrade, the Portpatrick area will not cope with the current amount of traffic from Ireland, let alone any increase.

In terms of road and transport links (or connectivity as the London-centric Tories talk about), we are the forgotten corner. Any feasibility study regarding a Celtic bridge must include the total cost. Infrastructure, dualling of both the A77 and A75, together with the impact on Portpatrick, the surrounding rich farmland, not to mention job losses from the closure of the ferry services out of Cairnryan, which incidentally are extremely efficient and well-run and get you to Northern Ireland in two hours. The ferries are rarely cancelled. We have had winds of over 60mph here, on a daily basis, for the best part of a week. The frequency of high winds here is increasing. How would a bridge in the North Channel cope?

We could achieve connectivity for this part of Scotland at a fraction of the cost of a bridge to Ireland by dualling the A77 and the A75.

Let’s inject some common sense and not hot air into this proposal!

Moira McAlpine

I’M not qualified to challenge Professor Alan Dunlop’s assertions about the engineering and architectural feasibility of the so-called “Celtic Bridge”; but as a long-standing and frequently disappointed supporter of investment in rail transport I have to say that his constant references to a “road and rail crossing” appear to be either naive or misleading.

Has Professor Dunlop forgotten, or not studied, the way in which a rail line over the Dornoch Firth road bridge was stymied by the then Tory-controlled Scottish Office? The sum saved was a mere £1.5 million at 1985 prices and the engineering issues were relatively simple.

If the Celtic Bridge were to go ahead, I suspect soundbites about a “road and rail crossing” would continue until the project was committed, when – surprise! – it would be discovered that both halves of the island of Ireland use a different rail track gauge from that of the mainland UK network. A quick study by consultants would bring up the economic difficulties of regaugeing the railways on the other side of the Irish Sea, the lack of capacity on the railway to Stranraer, the cost of reopening lines to serve the bridge ... and hey presto! The bridge would become road-only.

Even now, since the Northern Ireland ferry terminal was moved from Stranraer to Cairnryan, “train” passengers are treated to a bus ride from Ayr to Cairnryan, the greater part of the journey. In other words, rail is already being marginalised as a transport mode in the corridor which the bridge would serve. The bridge would simply take that process to its logical conclusion: closure of the railway south of Girvan and express buses from Glasgow to Belfast.

I doubt that the bridge project can serve both Unionist and nationalist aspirations, but whichever side of that debate you’re on, please don’t try to greenwash the project with rail references which are not borne out by experience.

Andrew McCracken
Grantown-on Spey

YOU don’t have to be a “Luddite” to oppose this bridge. Here’s a good reason for you – Westminster’s record on infrastructure projects! It will be massively over budget, cost Scotland 20 times more than it should, and if even a metre of it was ever built (which is HIGHLY doubtful) it would almost certainly be faulty. So why tie Scottish investment up in a pointless and unwanted project at exactly the wrong point in history? We have bigger issues right now. If you blindly trust Boris Johnson and his motives you are more than a Luddite, you are plain stupid. This bridge should be thought of more like a noose by which Westminster can tug and pull the Scottish Government for decades into the future, and it should be opposed by anyone with one iota of common sense.

Westminster is not to be trusted. The Tories are not to be trusted and if you think Boris “Garden Bridge” Johnson is to be trusted on this or any other matter, I have a bridge to sell you!

RJ Bulloch