The National:

THE end of this year has seen Boris Johnson cancel his estimated £335 billion post-Brexit promise to build a bridge between the UK and Ireland. As a Scot this failure has made me truly appreciate my experiences of the Øresund bridge in Denmark that connects to Sweden and the significant benefits it brings Danish citizens.

SNP MP John Nicolson summed up Johnson's abandoned plan well when he said “perhaps he’ll offer hot air balloons for the crossing instead”. After voting overall to remain in the EU the possibility of a direct route to Northern Ireland was, for a few in Scotland, a sign of optimism. However, the chance that the UK Government was looking to forge further connections with our close neighbours, albeit unrealistically, has now been revealed as nothing but a disappointment.

Some of the issues faced by the project were reminiscent of those faced by the crossing in the Øresund strait that connects Denmark to Sweden, where WW2 munitions caused a setback.

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The difference between the two is that the munitions dumped at Beaufort’s Dyke between Scotland and Ireland are substantial and include nuclear waste. When my home of Dumfries and Galloway made the news as one of the suggested sites for the bridge, this was one of my first concerns.

In recent years, a phosphorus bomb has even washed up on the region's shores surrounding Stranraer. However, the sheer size of such a project alone renders it unlikely. The potential crossing from Portpatrick to Larne would be four times the distance of that of the Øresund bridge.

The completion of the Øresund bridge brought about an economic and social change felt to this day that is to be envied by nations across the globe. With the bridges’ closest Danish city Copenhagen just an 8 hour drive away from Germany, It saw Denmark become a gateway between the heart of Europe and the Baltic/far north nations.

The opening of the bridge in 2000 presented many benefits for Danish citizens, by connecting Denmark to the Swedish city of Malmö and extending possibilities for bilateral trade. This was without a penny of taxpayer money as the cost of the construction was funded by a joint loan between governments and recuperated through toll fees.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson's plan for bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland shelved

Many Danes now commute to the Swedish city of Malmö as the train journey is roughly only an hour long, the journey time is obviously significantly shorter by car. In fact, an annual report found that the bridge made a gain of 1.47 million Danish Kroner just from road traffic in 2019 alone.

The Swedish city is also considered reasonably cheaper to live in than areas in Denmark. The attraction it brings to tourists is another one of the major benefits of the crossing that I have personally experienced. The project came with the inadvertent benefit of connecting the Copenhagen airport line with both Copenhagen central and Malmö, hugely increasing accessibility between nations.

The Øresund bridge should be hailed for the success that it is. Not just a model example of engineering, but of co-operation between nations that should be a blueprint for Scotland moving forward.