This in from Thomas Cowley on behalf of the Solent Tunnel Pro-Link Campaign Association. Ed
Pro-Link Campaign Association is pleased to confirm a visit by representatives of the Dutch business Tunnel Engineering Consultants (TEC).
World renowned experts confirmed again that a fixed link across the Solent is technically feasible. Timescales and likely costs for such a project were also confirmed.
The visitors were Paul Hanafin, Director of Infrastructure at Royal HaskoningDHV and Hans de Wit, Managing Director of TEC. The delegation brought world-leading technical tunnel construction expertise and expert knowledge of what would be needed to deliver such a project in the UK.
Visited following request
Paul and Hans visited after responding to a letter from Kevin Price, asking for their views on the prospect of a cross Solent Fixed Link.
The TEC team had seen the significant level of interest on the Facebook Fixed Link Referendum page and wanted to further investigate the situation on the Isle of Wight.
Bridge not practical
The assessment of Pro-Link’s visitors was largely in line with the current expectations following the research of the Pro-Link team. A bridge is not practical, due to the underlying geology and the height required of the span.
The other two options, which need further consideration are twin bored, or immersed tube tunnels.
Immersed tube tunnel
The delegates assessed that the immersed tube tunnel option would be attractive to boost the socio-economics on the Island. 90% of the labour for the project could be locally sourced.
The biggest challenges that would need to be considered for this construction method are environmental issues, as the Solent has a number of significant and complex constraints around any route.
Reducing the environmental impact
The choice of a bored tunnel would use much less local labour, due to the highly specialised skills needed for such a project, but it would cause significantly less environmental impact.
With all projects of this type, the final construction method and route would be decided during the design and engineering phase of the project.
Costs of the project
The knowledge from multiple other similar projects enabled the TEC delegates to estimate likely costs of a fixed link.
These are likely to be in the range of £1-1.2bn for the completed project.
They also confirmed that it is extremely likely private sector financial backing, similar to that on the Severn Crossings could be sourced for such a project.
The team confirmed the timescales to Pro-Link, which could be expected for a cross Solent Fixed Link. These will happen in two phases:
- Between two and three years to complete the full engineering and design study for the project.
- Once work commenced build time for the project, is likely to be in the region of between five and seven years.
A fixed link to the Isle of Wight could well be a reality within a decade.
Image: © Tunnel Engineering Consultants