Over one hundred guests attended our sold-out Chamber Lunch to hear the proposal to future-proof Guernsey’s economy via an undersea tunnel link to Jersey and Normandy.

Martyn Dorey, Founder of tunnel proposers, Connect 3 Million spoke passionately about the proposed tunnel and its suggested benefits including enriching trade and tourism, increasing GDP, and diversifying the local economy.

His chief goal was to convince the crowd to be open-minded and to ‘think tunnel’ when considering the island’s many-faceted future growth plans.

With him were a selection of senior representatives from tunnelling firms who aimed to ‘bring their normal to the Channel Islands

At the beginning of the session, a poll revealed that only 5% of attendees were either undecided on or negative towards the idea of Guernsey and Jersey working together on scoping out the feasibility of the tunnel project.

Taking the Chamber crowd back to the days of early settlers, Mr Dorey began by noting the historical need to pioneer local engineering initiatives to keep the islands relevant. ‘Shaping stone is core to what it means to be human’, he said, as he talked through Connect 3 Million’s ambitious proposal.

 ‘This isn’t about our generation, or even our children’s generation. It’s about building something our grandchildren will benefit from’

He noted as he addressed a selection of challenges facing Guernsey, including the decline of the tourism industry, a reliance on the financial services sector, and elusive GDP growth.

The first of the tunnelling experts to speak was Teitur Samuelsen, CEO of Eystur-og Sandoyartunlar, the Faroe Islands government-owned tunnel corporation. Mr Samuelsen shared his experience of developing a comparable tunnel network beneath the Faroe Islands, highlighting how the Faroe government delivered its programme to successfully reduce travel to the capital to under an hour.

His key takeaway was that although the costs may seem daunting, the investment is worthwhile when considering the long-term structural and economic benefits. Comparing the intimidating investment to the high cost of a committing to a mortgage, he commented: ‘when you buy your first house you think it’s expensive, but you can use it for the rest of your life’.

Following Mr Samuelsen was Arild. P. Sovik, Network Director at the Norwegian Tunnelling Society. Mr Sovik reaffirmed Mr Dorey’s mantra of ‘bringing their normal to the Channel Islands’, highlighting the viability of the project. Mr Sovik brings extensive experience from tunnelling in Norway, where he noted that ‘at any given time, 50 road tunnels are under construction, with 150 in development’.

The final speaker was Prof. Eivind Grov, President of  the Norwegian Tunnelling Society. He leveraged his experience building tunnels in Iceland, where he noted an initial resistance from the local population and government. However, after seeing the long-term expected impact of making crossing the fjords easier, the tunnel was constructed and saw a significant rise of 2,000 to 6,000 daily users, vastly outpacing its projected userbase.

Mr Grov concluded with a hopeful message, asserting that ‘this is not magic, this is something that is doable.’ 

Mr Dorey then returned to the stage to wrap up the session, giving a tertiary indication of finances, initially predicting that the tunnel could cost £1b, while bringing in £3.5b in income over a period of 10 years.

He finished with a plea to the Guernsey and Jersey governments to work together and align with a pan-island tunnelling company.

By the session’s end, the 5% that were unconvinced had their minds changed, with 100% of audience members agreeing that Guernsey and Jersey should scope out the project’s feasibility.

Addressing the ambitious nature of the plan, Mr Dorey concluded with a bold statement that encouraged Guernsey to be equally as bold: ‘if you want to be big, you need to start thinking big’.

Visit Connect 3 Million here

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