A suggestion that the Western Isles could be linked by a series of bridges and sub-sea tunnels in the future, and that these would not cost the taxpayer, has been made by the region’s MP Angus MacNeil.
The Stornoway Gazette reported last week that Mr MacNeil has requested the Scottish Government visit the Faroe Islands, where a tunnel and bridge-link infrastructure is already in place, to assess the practicality and costs of constructing and implementing a similar system in the Western Isles.
In the Faroe Islands, the building projects and maintenance of two sub-sea tunnels have been funded by the government and a loan, with costs being recouped by tolls paid by motorists.
In addition, the government is saving money it would have otherwise spent on a new ferry and its daily running costs.
Mr MacNeil said: “Tunnels in the Faroes pay for themselves. Initially, loans are taken out from international banks which are then paid back by the tolls received from the tunnels, typically over 15 years, and this ends up being cheaper than purchasing and running a ferry for a similar period. The tunnels, effectively over the 15-year period, pay for themselves.”
Commenting on future transport infrastructure a spokesman for Transport Scotland told the Gazette: “Work is now under way to review the National Transport Strategy (STS) to establish the strategic direction for the network in Scotland over the next 20 years and the important issue of connectivity for our islands and remote communities is being considered as part of this.
“Once completed, the NTS will inform the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) in identifying the transport interventions required to provide Scotland with a transport network fit for the 21st century.
“Any decisions on future funding of transport infrastructure will be informed by the outcomes of this review.”
There was no further information available from Transport Scotland about when those reviews were likely to be completed.