INVESTORS are showing enthusiasm for backing a project to build a tunnel between Guernsey, Jersey and France and politicians need to start taking the idea ‘seriously’, according to a Sarnian businessman.
Martyn Dorey, a former president of the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce, said it was ‘critical’ that his island’s development agency now explored his vision for pan-island and continental links on the basis that government support was needed to move the idea forward.
He claimed that investors who have backed similar tunnel projects in the Faroe Islands were interested.
Mr Dorey set out detailed proposals in 2020 for a 15-minute train service between St Peter Port and St Helier via an under-sea tunnel, ahead of a future extension to France.
He claimed at the time that the first phase would cost around £2.6 billion with a construction time of five to ten years.
This week, he said: ‘I think it’s critical that the [Guernsey government] development agency look at this and have freedom to look at this.
‘If government was 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 the feasibility study because then the private sector has got control over the entire process.
‘I think to protect our national interests, we need to be in command in terms of commissioning and getting best value for money. If the private sector come up with the cash for the feasibility study, you’ve actually lost the one card you’ve got to play.’
Mr Dorey said that while politicians in Guernsey and Jersey were cool on the idea, investors were more enthusiastic.
‘We’ve had contact with investor groups who supported the Faroe Islands tunnels and they said, “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”.
‘They want to see traffic use for the tunnel modelled and government prepared to insure the predicted traffic flows, before they can commit to finance.’
He added that inflation-linked ticket prices would make the idea feasible, providing interest rates remained lower than inflation.
In 2019 businessman Kevin Keen called for the idea of a bridge to France to be ‘properly investigated’ in Jersey, claiming it could help resolve the housing crisis.