Scottish island connectivity plan looks at tunnels

The Scottish Government is looking at the feasibility of building tunnels between some of its Western Isles to improve travelling between them.

In its Islands Connectivity Plan it looks at whether tunnels could be built under the Sound of Harris linking the Uists and Harris/Lewis, the Sound of Barra linking Barra and the Uists and between Mull and the Scottish mainland.

It says where fixed links (bridges, tunnels and causeways to islands and roads to peninsulas) are already in place in Scotland they provide a very high level of road transport connectivity. It adds there are also other locations where new fixed links are either proposed or being considered.

Transport Scotland’s says its second Strategic Transport Projects Review considered a large number of proposals for new fixed links to communities and concluded that replacing ferry services with fixed links can improve reliability, connectivity, capacity and travel times, and allow for the wider reconfiguration of ferry services.

However, island communities have expressed mixed views about the potential fixed links noted in the STPR2 with some concerned about a loss of island identity, increased road traffic and subsequent environmental impact and a reduction in local services due to the connection being both on and off the island.

Back in 2021 Scottish engineer Andy Sloan called for undersea road tunnels to be built between some of Scotland’s islands to help make their communities more sustainable. He told BBC Radio Scotland the country could follow an example set by the Faroe Islands, which opened a network of tunnels at Christmas 2020 (pictured).

(Pictures thanks to Ólavur Frederiksen / Faroephoto.com)

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