The prime minister’s plan to connect Scotland and Northern Ireland could bring unbridled fortune to the two isles. But, says Steven Cutts, will the project ever get off the ground?

All around the world, engineers are planning a new wave of infrastructure that will shorten journey times and overcome the ocean. The Finnish government is seriously considering a tunnel from Helsinki to Tallinn while Denmark and Germany are designing a tunnel that will link Loland in Denmark to northern Germany. This kind of ambition is hardly confined to northern Europe. The Japanese mastered this process a long time ago with even minor islands in their country communicating by bridge and tunnel since the 1970s. 
In this country, a fixed link between Ireland and the British mainland has long been in the offing, with Boris Johnson seeming to approve of the plan. There are several options, all of them pretty daring and all of them sufficiently costly to make any chancellor of the exchequer wince. 
Worse still, the populations of Britain and Ireland are hardly comparable with Britain and Europe and the traffic on an Irish Sea crossing is unlikely to exceed 20 per cent of that seen in the English Channel. 
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