Islands-France fixed link build ‘significant but not overwhelming’
BUILDING a tunnel and/or bridge connecting Guernsey, Jersey and France can be done, according to an executive at an international engineering firm.
Anne Moloney, from Ramboll, said that constructing such a fixed link would be a significant but not ‘overwhelming’ undertaking – and pointed to similar engineering projects in Denmark that had been successfully undertaken and delivered economic benefits.
Her comments come after Guernsey businessman Martyn Dorey set out his vision for the ‘Connect 3 million’ project to join Guernsey, Jersey and France via a new fixed link. The project could have a transformative economic effect, he told business leaders.
Addressing a Guernsey Chamber of Commerce event, Mr Dorey said he was in the process of engaging with Ramboll as well as looking to find around £5m. of funding from the Nordics to fund the feasibility study.
Ms Moloney, who is head of department major bridges at Ramboll, said: ‘The project feasibility hinges on numerous social, environmental, physical, political and economic factors. Being direct, the project is possible. Being awkward, it is perhaps the answers to the factors above that will govern whether or not the project is realistic.’
Describing the C3M project as an ‘incredibly, once in a lifetime, exciting opportunity’, she said that it replicated the great engineering challenges faced by islanders in the past to benefit society and the environment.
‘Ramboll as an independent engineer are honoured and humbled to be involved. Constructing a fixed link between Guernsey, Jersey and France is a significant undertaking as the distances involved are reasonably large. Setting aside the political and economic factors for a moment, the question of technical feasibility however, is not overwhelming.’
There were also examples worldwide that could be used as case studies that shared similarities. Ramboll, as an engineering firm in Denmark, had developed its skills developing the country – including fixed links made up of bridges, tunnels and even an artificial island.
‘The engineering feats achieved in these projects were ground breaking for their time,’ she added. ‘Equally, a fixed link in connecting two countries brings with it benefits. Recent studies show that the Øresund Fixed Link generated an additional €4bn in trade. And whilst the Channel Tunnel had its sceptics, it has also had positive financial impacts to the connectivity of the continent of Europe to Britain.’
The Ramboll executive stressed the need for fair engagement and conversation about what was needed when it came to cost and time. Keeping an open mind in the early phases of study work also led to ‘exciting solutions’.
‘For example, why design a car tunnel, when more cars are not needed on the islands? Why do this if all cars of the future are electric and autonomous, and owning a car is no longer needed?
‘So in this feasibility study, we expect to look at all transport options, trains, cars, circular tunnels, rectangular ones, the airport and artificial island, a port to make a joined up solution.
‘So in many ways, the excitement starts now, questions are not can it be done, but at this early stage, “what is it the islanders want?” To support this, in the coming months we will set up engagement days on the islands to gather opinions and interface with the residents to help set the brief.’
[Blob] Major fixed linked projects highlighted by Ramboll
The 18km Great belt Fixed link - two bridges and a bored, circular, tunnel - connecting Fyn and Zealand in Denmark
The 6km Øresund Link, connecting Sweden and Denmark - one bridge, an artificial island and an immersed, rectangular, tunnel.
The Fehmarn Belt, 18km that will connect Denmark and Germany via an immersed road and rail tunnel.
The Great Belt fixed link includes the east bridge, which at 6,790m long was a world record and the longest suspension bridge in the world for a period. Equally, the link includes a bored tunnel for the passenger and goods trains.
In the following decades, technology evolved and the Øresund Link includes world record breaking immersed tunnelling which is set to be broken by Fehmarn Belt.
Watch the clip below to see plans for the Fehmarn Belt that will link Germany to Denmark.