Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has had discussions with Norwegian consultants on the potential for subsea tunnels for the islands.

Norconsult have led projects to construct tunnels in Norway and the Faroes and have confirmed they are willing to conduct further studies on potential in the Hebrides.

Following discussions with Mr MacNeil, the consultants prepared a brief suggesting a tunnel between Harris and Skye as the best option with a possible additional inter-island link between Harris and North Uist.

Mr MacNeil said tunnels were a serious option for the islands as a means of reducing reliance on the ferry network and making savings in the long term.

He said: “A transport network which includes tunnels is a system we should aspire to follow in the Scottish islands. We need solutions to the long term challenges.

“My discussions with Norconsult were very positive on the potential they see in the islands. They are currently working on three subsea projects including a 27km tunnels in Norway which, when completed, will become the world’s longest road tunnel.

“They say the rocks in Scotland and the islands are similar to rocks found in parts of Western Norway so that similar construction methods could be used.

“They estimate that with investment costs and discounted operating costs, the sum of time savings and saved ferry costs could amount to more than £300 million over 60 years.

“I have shared the information from Norconsult with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Scottish Government and I hope this is something they will seriously consider.”

The consultants estimate socio-economic benefits from reductions in travel times and reductions in costs. In addition, increased connectivity to the islands to the rest of the UK would be likely to stimulate the local economy. It would reduce lead times and improve punctuality for export of goods to the UK and abroad.