Faroe tunnel investors “serious” about $3.4bn Channel Island link

A European Space Agency image of Guernsey, Herm and Sark (Copernicus Sentinel-2, ESA/CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
A businessman in the Channel Islands has said that the backers of a tunnel system in the Faroe Islands are interested in building an undersea link between Jersey and Guernsey, with a later extension to France, according to a report in the Jersey Evening Post.

Martyn Dorey, a former president of the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce and founder of Dorey Financial Modelling, said he had had contact with the investor groups who supported the Faroe tunnels and they had told him: “We’re ready to take this seriously. We’re ready to invest but we need to see the politicians in both islands taking this seriously.”

He called on the Guernsey Development Agency to back his proposals, which he set out in 2020, for a 15-minute train service between St Peter Port and the Jersey capital of St Helier. He said at the time that the first phase would cost around $3.4bn with a construction time of between five and 10 years.

An 11km tunnel was completed in 2020 between Streymoy and Eysturoy, the largest of the Faroe Islands; a second between Streymoy and Sandoy is expected to be completed next year (see further reading). Those projects were considerably less expensive than the proposed Channel Island link – the Eysturoy tunnel was $166m. However, the Channel Islands have a GDP of $11.5bn, compared with $3.1bn for the Faroes.

Dorey commented: “If government were supportive, it may be possible to get funding for the feasibility study. However, it wouldn’t necessarily be in the interests of Guernsey to have the private sector fund it because then the private sector has got control over the entire process.”

According to Dorey, the investors would require traffic flow models and a willingness on the part of the Channel Islands’ governments to shoulder some of the risk if the predictions proved inaccurate.

In 2019, businessman Kevin Keen, a former president of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce, called for a bridge between the Channel Islands and France to be “properly investigated”. In 2020 he suggested that Dorey’s proposal for a tunnel may be a better alternative.

He added that a tunnel extension to France would relieve Jersey’s long-standing housing shortage by allowing islanders to buy relatively cheap homes in Normandy.

Meanwhile, Keith Beecham, chief executive of Visit Jersey, commented that anything that improved inter-island connectivity was to be welcomed, however he noted that Dorey’s outline costs suggested that the project would work out at around £170,000 for each resident of Jersey and Guernsey.

He said: “Clearly a full feasibility and environmental impact study would be needed to get this idea worked up to a robust business case.”

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