THE UK Government is being urged to disregard plans for a bridge or tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland and told to focus on areas where money can be “better spent”.

In a letter to his Westminster counterpart Grant Shapps, Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson called for investment in more localised transport infrastructure which could benefit both countries.

He also urged the Tories not to leave Holyrood and Stormont in the dark when it comes to plans which are covered by devolved legislation.

His letter comes after Alister Jack suggested a tunnel between the two countries would boost their economies while also strengthening the Union.

READ MORE: Alister Jack backs Scotland-NI tunnel – and claims Boris Johnson does too

The commentsmwere made despite Boris Johnson having previously backed plans for a bridge.

In response, Matheson wrote: “We understand that consideration is now being given to a tunnel between Northern Ireland and Scotland instead of a bridge.

“You will recall, having previously written to you, that we both believe this money would be better spent on delivering the vital infrastructure investment our communities need in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“As we have also made clear to you previously, we believe infrastructure investment should be focused on projects that will improve lives, boost our economy and connectivity, support communities and crucially work to address the climate emergency.”

WATCH: Scottish Secretary says 'Boris Bridge' is a 'euphemism'

Critics have raised multiple concerns about the practicalities of building any sort of road link between Scotland and Northern Ireland, insisting the idea is just not realistic.

As well as the major costs, which are estimated at between £20 and £30 billion, there is a huge Second World War munitions dump at the bottom of Beaufort's Dyke in the Irish Sea.

Northern Ireland’s Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken also insisted the tens of billions would be better spent on other more pressing concerns in the region.

Matheson's statement was echoed by his Northern Irish counterpart Nichola Mallon MLA, but she added the assembly should receive the full allocation of the Barnett formula to invest in infrastructure.

Outlining how the funds could be better spent, Matheson called for the UK Government to: 

  • Accelerate the development of the HS2 rail link, which he said should be extended to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
  • Electrify the major rail networks at major English ports to “improve the viability of rail freight to and from Scotland”.
  • And provide additional resources to improve transport infrastructure in the south-west of Scotland.

Concluding, the Transport Secretary called for Shapps to ensure that “any future proposals which encroach into the devolved responsibilities of the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are fully discussed with us first, respecting the role of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament”.