THE UK Government has been accused of “burying” the final report of a review which commissioned experts to examine the idea of a bridge or tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson effectively ditched the plan for a link between the countries last week, claiming it was now an “ambition”.

In March, an interim report of the Union Connectivity Review ordered by Johnson to explore links between the four nations said a feasibility study would be carried out.

The final recommendations of the review were due to be published by independent chair Sir Peter Hendy in summer 2021, according to information on the Department of Transport (Dft) website.

But the DfT now says there is no specific date and that the final recommendations will be published “in due course”. It did not give any further information on the reasons for the delay, despite a request for details from the Sunday National.

The National:

SNP MSP Emma Harper (above) said: “It’s no surprise this report has been buried deeper than Boris Johnson’s non-starter of a tunnel or bridge or whatever ludicrous nonsense he blurted out to deflect from his government’s infinite shortcomings.

“The SNP will always welcome proposals on how we can strengthen relations with Northern Ireland and Ireland, but we will focus on viable ideas which support and protect Scottish jobs and businesses to secure a fair and strong economic recovery.

“Instead of wasting time and money on window dressing vanity projects like this so-called review, the Tories would do far more good if they simply started listening to the people of Scotland rather than arrogantly telling us what is good for us.”

The cost of a tunnel linking Scotland and Northern Ireland had been met with much criticism, with estimated costs of up to £20 billion.

In his interim report, Hendy said he had asked two experts to lead a “discrete piece of work” to assess the feasibility of such a link and an outline cost and timescale.

The report also identified faster and higher capacity connections for passengers from HS2 to Scotland as a key concern.

Last week Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told the Commons he had received information from a whistleblower within the high-speed rail line project that it is “loss-making” and will not be completed before 2041, 10 years later than planned.

Speaking to reporters at the end of his visit to the US last week, Johnson hinted HS2 would still go ahead but backed away from the idea of a link between Scotland and Northern Ireland, saying: “Although it remains an ambition, it’s not the most immediate.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Transport infrastructure is a devolved matter and the Union Connectivity Review was established without any discussion and consultation with Scotland, Wales and NI.

“We will always seek to engage constructively with the UK Government – for example, collaborating on cross-border rail and our shared desire for HS2 to serve Scotland. However, we already have a robust process for identifying future transport infrastructure investment in Scotland – STPR2, not the Union Connectivity Review.”

A spokeswoman for the DfT said: “Sir Peter will publish his final recommendations in due course.”