‘Grand project’ for tunnel or bridge to Jersey unveiled
A TUNNEL linking Guernsey, Jersey and France plus an artificial island with a new airport and shared services would have a positive transformative impact, its backers say – and senior politicians are supportive.
The ‘Connect 3 million’ scheme for a road or rail tunnel, and/or bridge, could start in St Sampson’s, travel under Herm and Sark on to Jersey and then to mainland France.
An artificial island would be built between Sark and Jersey as part of the project, which could have a potential overall price tag of between £350m. and £7bn.
The new island could house a combined Channel Islands airport, easily accessible from northern France as well as shared Jersey-Guernsey services such as a prison, a hospital and even a university – boosting the economy and slashing a third of the costs of the islands’ two governments.
The ‘grand project’ has been put forward by businessman Martyn Dorey, a former president of the island’s Chamber of Commerce.
He said it could double the Channel Islands’ current £7bn GDP and address recruitment and population worries by creating a new Normandy economic zone and commuter belt stretching far into northern France.
Mr Dorey, an investment actuary and fintech entrepreneur, insisted it was achievable, pointing to tunnels linking the Faroe Islands or airports built on artificial islands around the world.
Engineering projects closer to home such as Alderney’s breakwater or the filling of the Braye du Valle that created a single island of Guernsey also showed what could be done.
Huge numbers of commuters from France also travelled to Switzerland, Luxembourg and Monaco – demonstrating a willingness to travel for jobs.
‘This is feasible. It’s all going to hang on doing a technical feasibility study,’ said Mr Dorey when he set out his vision at this month’s Chamber lunch at the Old Government House hotel.
‘We are going to need prerequisites from each jurisdictions. So we’ve approached the governments of Jersey and Guernsey and we’ve spoken to the chief ministers. And both chief ministers have said they will lend their support.
‘Certainly over the next coming days, I’m hoping to receive a letter co-signed by both chief ministers lending their support to this project to investigate the feasibility of a tunnel. My view is that it needs to be done by the private sector.’
He added he was in the process of engaging with Ramboll, an international engineering business, and was looking to find around £5m. of funding from the Nordics for a feasibility study.
‘It might be a tunnel. It might be a bridge. It might be a combination of both. It might be rail. It might be road. You’ve got to be open-minded about what’s possible,’ said Mr Dorey.
Depending on the outcome of the feasibility study, discussions would be held with the Jersey and Guernsey governments. The funders of the study could then get ‘first rights of refusal’ depending on what the governments wanted to do.
‘It’s clearly 10% chance or less of this actually being successful. But if you look at projects around the world, we think it’s worth giving it a shot. And literally giving it a go and seeing how far we get,’ said Mr Dorey.
He added that the French might want to help with funding, but stressed that it was important to get financing for the feasibility study first, which could set out the cost of building such a link, and focus on building support in Guernsey and Jersey.