Milton Keynes MP supports building underwater tunnels costing £20m per kilometre - in Scotland

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Milton Keynes MP Iain Stewart has come under fire for advocating more undersea tunnels be built to connect islands in Scotland.

Mr Stewart, whose constituency is MK South, is also the UK government’s Minister for Scotland and recently embarked upon a fact-finding trip to the Faroe Islands.

Here he viewed an undersea tunnel, complete with the world's first undersea roundabout, that connects the two largest islands.

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Now he is advocating that the building of more tunnels be “seriously thought about” to bring more sustainable travel to other isalnd communities.

Iain Stewart MPIain Stewart MP
Iain Stewart MP

The Scotsman newspaper reports he has requested a meeting with the SNP’s transport minister to discuss the idea.

Mr Stewart said: "I've got an open mind – it may not be practical, but given the population sizes are broadly comparable, it seems worth exploring.

He said the tunnels in the Faroe Islands cost about £20 million per kilometre, or £12.5m per mile.

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"It's not going to be cheap, but you contrast that against building several new ferries – not just once, but given those tunnels would be there for many, many years, probably two or three cycles of building ferries."

The Faroes tunnel has the world's first underwater roundaboutThe Faroes tunnel has the world's first underwater roundabout
The Faroes tunnel has the world's first underwater roundabout

The Scottish Government, as part of its Transport Review, has already said some ferry links could be replaced with tunnels or bridges, including including from Scotland's mainland and Mull..

This week a spokesman for Scotland’s transport minister Jenny Gilruth gave a scathing comment to Scottish newspaper The Herald about Mr Stewart’s views.

The spokesman said: “Given transport is a devolved matter, it’s no wonder Iain Stewart has plenty of time on his hands, jet-setting across to the Faroes during a cost of living crisis.

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“Island communities will be intrigued as to what facts the Milton Keynes MP has been gathering.”

He added: “If Mr Stewart is interested in sharing any of the facts he has gathered from his trip, the Scottish Government would be more than willing to hear them, recognising, as Mr Stewart will of course respect, that transport is devolved.”

Mr Stewart, who was born in Scotland, was made Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland in June 2020. He vowed the post would not affect his work as an MP for Milton Keynes.