Under the sea to Skye: tunnel link is no April Fool

A large-scale portrait of a local soldier who died in the Great War will be drawn into the sand at Cula Bay on November 11, exactly 100 years after the Armistice was signed.

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Despite a number of people thinking it was an April Fool’s story that was mistakenly published either too early or late, it is in fact true that the construction of a tunnel linking Benbecula and Skye has been floated as a possible future transport solution.

Transport Scotland is in the process of concluding the Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2) and the potential tunnel project, which would see a dual carriageway-width link constructed under 17 miles of the Little Minch between Rarnish on Benbecula and Neist Point on Skye, has emerged as an infrastructure option within STPR2.

According to some experts, such a tunnel could in the region of £450million – equivalent to £37,500 for each man, woman and child that make up the approximately 12,000 people that live on Skye and Benbecula.

At a Comhairle meeting last week, it was suggested that, in the event the council wanted to consider the matter further, a seminar could be arranged to consider the many issues a permanent connection of parts of the Western Isles to mainland Scotland by way of a fixed link would raise.

It is also suggested the Comhairle would require to undertake detailed island impact assessment and community consultation before considering its own policy stance on this issue.

Such a process would enable an informed policy stance to be taken in advance of the next annual review of the Local Transport Strategy (LTS).

Several councillors had expressed a wish to include reference to a Benbecula to Skye fixed link in the next LTS.

The Comhairle agreed that a further meeting needs to be held and that a detailed islands impact assessment and community consultation would be required before forming any definitive policy on this issue.