You may dismiss an Anglo-Irish bridge between Ireland and the U.K as an idea that is never going to happen. But think again, says our inhouse psychic.
Our psychic “Old Moore” has come up with some crazy ideas. Among them have been solar roadways and lab-grown meats. Deemed wildly crazy at the time of publishing, here were are, nearly a decade later, and both of these things are happening as we speak. So what is his next crazy prediction that he says will happen for sure? A bridge linking Dublin in Ireland with Holyhead in Wales. And not only that, it will pay for itself by generating power in three different ways: solar, wind and wave. And there’s more: the bridge will be habitable. Yes, there will be accommodation clusters all along the bridge. And shops!
This land link will provide jobs for multiple people, and will become part of both economies. The idea of a permanent land link between Ireland and the U.K. isn’t new. It has fascinated engineers and politicians for generations. In 1885, a magazine called Irish Builder and Engineer said a tunnel under the Irish Sea had been discussed “for some time back.” In 1897 a British firm applied for £15,000 towards the cost of carrying out borings and soundings in the North Channel to see if a tunnel was viable. This idea is still current, especially considering the incredible amount of traffic going between both countries.
Today, the Dublin-London air route is the second-busiest air route in the world. Almost 4.5 million people flew between Dublin and London last year. And, then there’s the ferry traffic, which doesn’t even count in these statistics. The amount of humans traversing this watery straight is huge. A bridge would open up this heavily trafficked route even further, bringing economic advantages to Ireland, strengthening our trade partnership with the U.K., and possibly easing Brexit concerns. Plus, it would be an engineering achievement that would bring in tourism. (Tourism is our favourite get-rich-quick plan, which seems to be working.)
The distance that stretches between Ireland and the U.K. is around the same as the Channel Tunnel that links the U.K. and France. The Eurotunnel transports over 20 million passengers every year between the two countries. And this number keeps increasing. However costs for building a tunnel are exponentially larger than building a bridge. Also, the underwater geography is different; the Anglo-Irish channel tunnel would be a more difficult project.
But what about a bridge that paid for itself? What about a bridge that didn’t just rely on passenger tolls? A bridge that generated enough energy to power entire cities on both sides of the water? In fact, there are examples of such bridges already under design.
Coffice Architecture and Urban Planning in Italy have just designed an entirely fabulous bridge called “Solar Wind.” A wind energy plant will be integrated within the structure of the bridge. And, sun-facing surfaces will be covered by solar panels. But that’s not all. There would also be a pedestrian walkway, enriched by panoramic spots and solar greenhouses.
It will also be built to cope with local seismic activity. This is important when considering a bridge across the Irish Sea. In 2015, a magnitude three earthquake struck six kilometres off the Welsh coast near Holyhead.
There is also another way to generate electricity from a bridge: wave power. Wave energy is the newest cool kid on the block in terms of renewable energy. This is because the ocean never stops moving, 24 hours a day. Recently, the first commercial wave power station opened in the Basque seaport of Mutriku. The wave hits the structure, and water enters specially-designed chambers. This compresses the air at high pressure and forces it through an opening at the top, which turns the turbine, generating electricity. Generating energy from a bridge across the Irish Sea in a similar fashion is entirely within reach.
Another aspect is that the bridge doesn’t have to be devoid of human life. In fact, it could hold several residential complexes. And an architectural firm has designed such a thing for a decommissioned bridge in the Calabria region in Italy. Not wanting the bridge structure to go to waste, the call has been made for new ideas to use the existing structure.
Philippe Rizzotti Architecture has come up with the concept of “vertical villages.” Their vision is that the bridge would have commercial spaces, medical centres and leisure spaces, and a pedestrian promenade. There is no reason why a bridge over the Irish Sea could not also provide accommodation offering the seafaring life. Homes could even have a private berth for their boats When the bridge across the Irish Sea goes ahead, there will be carparks for taking in the view, rest stops and shops to visit.
Sounds like everybody’s kind of drive. Especially if we take the self-driving car. Can’t wait!