The prime minister has launched a study into improving transport infrastructure across the United Kingdom, including plans to build a bridge between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The review was initially proposed by Boris Johnson in the summer as part of the Government's 'build back better' agenda when Mr Johnson promised to work with the devolved administrations to look into improving 'road, rail, air and sea links' between the four UK nations.
Portpatrick harbour - a potential site for the Irish Sea bridge
It also follows reports in February this year suggesting officials were considering proposals for a bridge across the Irish Sea - most likely between Portpatrick in Scotland and Larne in Northern Ireland.
The controversial plans would run to at least £20bn, according to some sources.
The review will look at the 'feasibility and economic case' for a range of options, issues and improvements, including:
- reviewing air links within the UK
- boosting road and rail links to Scotland
- cutting journey times to North Wales by reviewing the Welsh railway network
- improving major road links across the country, like the A1
Number 10 has revealed that the review will be led by Sir Peter Hendy CBE, chair of Network Rail.
Mr Johnson said: 'Quality transport links are the key to making sure everyone can access education, jobs and housing, helping businesses to grow and thrive and rebalancing opportunity fairly across our country.
'As we build back better from the pandemic, Sir Peter’s review will help make sure we have the right connections to support, sustain and strengthen our communities – to truly level up across the UK.'
The review will also consider the role of 'future technologies and assess environmental impacts of current and future infrastructure'.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: 'Sir Peter brings extensive experience and knowledge to the role with over 45 years working in the transport sector – including as chair of Network Rail and successfully running London’s transport network during the Olympics.'
Sir Peter Hendy CBE said: 'Improving links across the UK on the basis of the wider economic benefits that increased investment will deliver will be of benefit to everyone in the UK.'
Sir Peter is expected to publish his final recommendations in Summer 2021.
The UK Government has also pledged to accelerate infrastructure projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Working with the devolved administrations, Westminster will identify opportunities for ‘spades in the ground’ ready projects.