Highways England has called for a ‘national debate’ over a proposed Trans-Pennine Tunnel linking Sheffield with Manchester.
An interim report by the agency says the tunnel would be a national first and the most ambitious UK road scheme since the first motorway 50 years ago.
It adds that there is a “clear strategic case” for the scheme with productivity benefits of between £171 million and £421 million per annum The proposed strategic road link between Sheffield and Manchester ranges from 25 to 31 miles long and includes a tunnelled section, which could be between 12.4 and 18.6 miles, making it one of the longest tunnels ever built.
The longest road tunnel in the world is the Laerdal tunnel in Norway, which took around five years and more than £76 million to construct.
In the UK, the Hindhead Tunnel is the longest under-land road tunnel in the UK, with 1.14 miles stretching below the Devil’s Punch Bowl in Surrey.
Highways England said: “Such a connection could have a dramatic impact on the economy of the north, particularly in combination with plans for high-speed rail links. It would be capable of fundamentally changing the nature of the journey between two of the most important cities of the north.
“But the invaluable landscapes and ecological significance of the Peak District National Park rule out a surface link. The only credible solution may be to construct a tunnel under the central part of the Pennines. This carries with it the potential to bring important environmental improvements to the Peak District National Park.”
Author: Phil Riley
Photo: Vincent / Wikipedia