Letter: How about a semi-fixed link to Lymington?

A suggestion for a partially-fixed link between the Island and the mainland is raised by reader Ron Chonner


We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers. This one from Ron Chonner in Lake. Ed

The argument for and against a fixed link to the mainland appears frequently in these columns, with opinion more or less equally divided between the proponents, yet with the majority of Islanders undecided.

Something to keep everyone happy?
I would like therefore to propose a compromise that will hopefully satisfy everyone. A suggestion that takes advantage of the relative shallowness of the waters between the mainland and the Island at the western end, opposite the New Forest region.

It would be simple and relatively cheap solution to construct an elevated road at this point (to call it a ‘bridge’ would be an exaggeration).

Swing it over
There could be a swing or lift section at the mainland end, to allow the passage of yachts and motor cruisers, and at the Island end a considerably longer removable section mounted perhaps on barges.

The road would be suitable for cars and light vans only, and the barge mounted section would normally be anchored to one side, leaving a long gap.

Remaining as an island
Thus the Island would remain as such, being connected only at certain times, such as the peak of the holiday season and perhaps for an hour or so during the morning and evening ‘rush hours’.

What do others think of this idea?

Image: Estoril under CC BY 2.0

Tuesday, 22nd January, 2013 12:18pm


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  1. lardi's comment is rated +18 Vote +1 Vote -1

    22.Jan.2013 12:36pm

    A 6km link similar to the pontoons they used in the D-Day landings, welcomed by the yachties of Lymington – a interesting concept. I have filed it with my plans for a chocolate teapot and an ashtray on my motorbike. I will however raise the idea with the independent candidates when they come around canvasing on the first day in April.

    • Billy Builder's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

      22.Jan.2013 3:27pm

      But think of all that extra pontoon space that the yacht clubs could rent out – 6km, 2 sides, 1 pontoon per 15m, that’s a lot of yachts.

      Can I invest ?

  2. chalkie's comment is rated -3 Vote +1 Vote -1

    22.Jan.2013 1:05pm

    In principle, a fixed link is a great idea. Getting to the Island is a costly business; a week’s return for me and the car at Xmas cost almost £100, not to mention the time it takes to make the crossing from your port of choice. I would love to be able to drive from London to Ventnor direct, not have to wait for a ferry and shave a good hour from the collective journey times.

    Therein lies the rub, though. Part of the joy of coming home is the fact you have to wait and savour the time it takes to get across. It slows you down and reminds you Island life is different. As a (hobbyist) photographer I enjoy the fact I can spend half an hour of my journey indulging in my hobby, if I want to and weather permits. If we had a fixed link that would be lost. Yes, I know I’d have the choice of how to make the crossing, but cost and time would be overriding factors.

    From a practical point of view a pontoon, raised or floating, isn’t really an option; The Solent is a busy shipping lane with commercial, freight an military vessels passing through on a regular basis. It would probably end up being letting ships pass through more often than connecting road traffic to the mainland.

    So, in theory, yes please and right now, but reality bites! That said, if someone thinks a tunnel is more viable (look at what they did with the A3 at Hindhead), that might be the way to go.

    • wight portal's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

      22.Jan.2013 1:24pm

      You’d have to have a hell of a lot of crossings to make it pay.

      If both Red Funnel and Wightlink are not able to shift the amount of transport that they do any cheaper full time, how will a part time bridge be any less expensive?

  3. cynic's comment is rated +5 Vote +1 Vote -1

    22.Jan.2013 1:13pm

    @Chalkie “In principle, a fixed link is a great idea. Getting to the Island is a costly business; a week’s return for me and the car at Xmas cost almost £100.”

    What makes you think that the cost via a fixed link would be any cheaper?

  4. mike starke's comment is rated +15 Vote +1 Vote -1

    22.Jan.2013 4:52pm

    Here’s a bit of lateral fixed link thinking; an Island council gives itself planning permission to built a fixed link to the mainland in partnership (not PFI) with local contractors.

    Using the existing ploys to skew the market (eg: “preferred bidders”, “optimism bias” calculations, consultants telling you what they know you want to hear etc) the council excludes existing ferry operators from the bidding.

    Australian banks and others, fearing a collapse in profits, try desperately to offload physically floating assets that can be seen to be metaphorically sinking as a result of the threat from an alternative cross-Solent transport system.

    Ferry companies are re-nationalised by Island funding at the no more than the knockdown price they were sold for in the 1980s.

    The Isle of Wight is then hailed as forward thinking beacon of excellence, thanks to an enlightened and innovative County Hall administration working in harmony with the local community for the good of all.

    Dammit! It all looked so reasonable, until that last bit.

  5. Eddie's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

    22.Jan.2013 5:54pm

    The road over the solent you describe sounds like the roads that cross the water & connect the Islands from the tip of Florida down to Key West. That would be really nice but I can’t see the barge idea of moving a large section to allow shipping through working. Owning & running these barges sounds expensive to me, still, keep your thinking caps on, the rest of it sounds nice.

  6. Island Monkey's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    22.Jan.2013 5:59pm

    You build it – they’ll all use it.

    • bayboy's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

      22.Jan.2013 6:29pm

      I believe that a fixed link would be wonderful for Island residents. I agree Island Monkey, Build it and they will use it

    • cynic's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

      22.Jan.2013 6:44pm

      …. and in the real world…. :-))

      1. A Solent crossing whether bridge, tunnel, pontoons, hot air balloons and so has no chance of being funded by any government while austerity measures are in place (for next 10 years says Cameron).

      2. That means such a venture would have to be built using PFI/PPP or whatever new set of initials are dreamed up.

      3. PFI funders have to pay much higher interest rates than governments.

      4. The Treasury calculate that the higher interest rates make PFI construction/operation costs 70% dearer over a 25 year life of the project

      5. As part of the deal, the PFI companies would demand the right to operate the “Solent Crossing” for the life of the project (25 years).

      6. PFI operating companies are profit-driven by their shareholders and will set the prices for crossing to maximise profit.

      7. The Island provides a captive market both literally and metaphorically- monopsony if you want be posh- so the prices will be set at the highest margin before demand starts to drop.

      7. Thus PFI funders and operating companies would act no differently to the way the investment bankers owning RF and WL operate today, nor would the “Solent Crossng” company be adept at blackmailing passengers than today’s ferry companies.

      So IMHO we can forget A “Solent Crossing” with prices cheaper than today until some future government is willing to fund it from taxpayers’ money.

  7. goldie's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    22.Jan.2013 6:34pm

    the most obvious answer would be to close that end of the solent to large traffic, it can be done on land roads so why not marine ones, it seems to be the major fault in the plans to build a fixed link so why not remove the obstruction, most of the larger vessels come here via france and spain as shown by the build up in sandown bay at times. ive lived here for 50 years, im not a fan of a fixed link but you cant stop progress and if it means i dont have to go in one of those awful lifts on the ferries i would support it

    • biggmarket's comment is rated +6 Vote +1 Vote -1

      22.Jan.2013 8:05pm

      One of the difficulties with a fixed link is often ignored here and that is the willingness or other wise of people on the Mainland having their lives disrupted by such a project.

      The ongoing saga of the opposition to the new boats on the Yarmouth to Lymington run should serve as a warning. I can for example see the Friends of the New Forest raising huge objections to increased traffic. Anyone who has ever been stuck trying to get through Lyndhurst won’t welcome additional vehicles either.

      Just to add to the mix where would the traffic end up on the mainland? Would a road have to be built to connect with the existing network? Would this involve knocking houses down?

      There are other considerations to bear in mind. Firstly the road from Newport to Yarmouth isn’t really capable of absorbing extra traffic. Secondly why would people who live say in Ryde or East Cowes and who wish to travel to Brighton or Guildford want to drive to Yarmouth, battle their way through Lyndhurst and then have to drive the A31 and part of the M27 when a ferry to Portsmouth can get them on the Motorway in fairly quick order?

      I don’t mean to be negative but I have long held the view that advocates of a fixed link seriously underestimate the practical difficulties involved.

  8. tryme's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    22.Jan.2013 7:51pm

    Anyone who loves coming home to the Island & thinks a fixed link would make this (lovely) experience a quicker one: the place you call ‘home’ now, would become homogenised with the mainland, & over-run by more tarmac & buildings, as it suddenly becomes a much more commercially viable place to exploit. You would be looking for somewhere else distinctive & special to call home.

    And you think there are an awful lot of senior council staff shipped over from the mainland, & Island-living people overlooked? Just watch the number of mainland-livers given senior jobs soar via the fixed link, as local roots become far less relevant….

  9. Chris Newman's comment is rated +6 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Jan.2013 8:49am

    I say NO to a fixed link.
    If you don’t like living on an Island, move to the mainland.
    When you say but I don’t want to move to the Mainland, think WHY?
    – The answers are the reasons that I don’t want a fixed link.

  10. freddiem's comment is rated +5 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Jan.2013 11:32am

    As a born and bred corkhead i am totally against any form of fixed link. Half the magic of coming home to visit family and friends is the boat trip over.
    I can only assume that “Ron Chonner” is an overner who has retired here and has nothing better to do than to try and change things. Of course there is the possibility that he is a wind up merchantand his name is an anagram. I agree with Chris Newman on this one. You don’t like the island then you know where the ferry terminals are. We don’t have border controls (unfortunately) yet and you won’t be prevented, but leave our beautiful island be!

  11. David Yates's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Jan.2013 4:43pm

    Forget the fixed link idea. It will never happen – because the island’s roads (and those immediately adjacent on the mainland) simply could not cope with the volume of traffic any fixed link would encourage. The island does however want more people to visit, so the way I see it, there are at least two other ways of achieving this:

    1. Build a simple continental jetty (with adjacent marina)in Sandown Bay and establish a ferry link to France. This would bring only minimal traffic, but lots of pedestrians. For examples, you just have to visit any of the Canary Islands – as I am doing in two weeks!

    2. Charge the full council tax rate + an additional percentage for all second/holiday homes on the island, then pass on the bulk of this additional income to the ferry companies, so that fares can be reduced. The ‘we only like to pop down a couple of times a year’ brigade are the very people who are strangling our island’s economy – and are also the very people who can (and should)afford to fund such a scheme – or any other increasing-revenue schemes you can care to mention.

    Stop dreaming or moaning, and start encouraging real ideas like these – or come up with even better ideas of your own. That’s what living in a democracy is all about.

    Best wishes,

    David Yates

    • Joseph Moore's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

      25.Jan.2013 9:21am

      I always wonder if there’s scope for day trips, pleasure cruises and foot passenger ferries to further afield. The island has plenty of old Victorian piers, as do relatively nearby resorts like Bournemouth. A proper vintage style experience would certainly be more appealing than being herded into a modern box of a boat. I’m sure I’ve seen this kind of thing advertised, but it always seems to be for special occasions and one-offs only.

  12. Starb.'s comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

    24.Jan.2013 10:56pm

    I always thought a tunnel was the answer from Ventnor to France.

  13. greenhey's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    9.Feb.2013 6:23pm

    Every suggestion re a fixed link overlooks a major issue.

    That is, there needs to be approach roads of sufficient quality to handle the traffic the bridge or tunnel would need to have.

    Which would mean a large road-building programme on both shores. The impact on Yarmouth would be enormous, while the same would be true for Lymington; not to mention the issue of the need for the road on that side to connect into the motorway system somewhere,,as far as I can see, inevitably through the New Forest.

    Yes, Yarmouth-Lymington is the shortest crossing, but look at the extra mileage people on either side would need to incurr to reach them.

  14. Bolshy's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    20.Mar.2014 12:05pm

    Forget the western end crossing….By using/upgrading the road to Fawley…and starting a road tunnel just north of Lepe…and coming up wherever….south of Cowes or near Newport? would make the most sense and overcome most environmental objections.. As far as funding is concerned…this scheme would be an ideal candidate for an EU grant……


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