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Letter to minister

Shapps told ‘scrap Irish tunnel and invest in local projects’

Michael Matheson

Michael Matheson: funds should be diverted (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson and his Northern Ireland counterpart Nichola Mallon have called on Westminster to abandon any thoughts of building a tunnel under the Irish Sea.

Instead they want the UK Transport Department to divert funding towards “vital infrastructure” to help communities.

In a letter to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Mr Matheson says: “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.”

Officials from the respective departments have met recently to discuss greater connections within the UK and Mr Matheson says that interest in improving transport networks is welcome.

However, he calls on Mr Shapps to respect the devolved administrations’ powers over transport by ensuring hat adequate resource is made available with their consent.

In letter Mr Matheson calls on Mr Shapps to commit to:

– accelerating the pace of HS2, extending it to Scotland’s two largest cities and commit to a programme which builds the capacity for high speed rail services from north to south at the same time as south to north

– electrifying the rail networks at the major English ports of Teesport, Felixstowe, Thames Haven and Immingham to improve the viability of rail freight to and from Scotland

– supporting additional resources to deliver on a number of proposals to upgrade transport infrastructure in South West Scotland that are already on the table which would improve connectivity and bring significant benefits to the people of Northern Ireland and Scotland, making a real difference to improving lives

– ensuring 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.

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