AS a resident of a village near the ferry ports at Cairnryan, where nearly 4,000 vehicles pass through on a daily basis heading north to Glasgow and the Central Belt, I have been closely following the debate about the idea that a bridge should be built to connect Northern Ireland to this part of south-west Scotland (“PM pushes ahead with £20bn road tunnel for Irish Sea”, The Herald, February 11, and Letters, February 11&12.)

I have absolutely no doubt that given the correct design to meet the most challenging weather and environmental conditions, the best engineers and builders and a bottomless budget, we could indeed build such a complex construction.

And then what? Do the architects/advocates of this scheme know where Portpatrick actually is? Have they ever visited the village by car or public transport?

The road out of Portpatrick is single carriageway. To head north on the A77 to Glasgow, travellers need to negotiate the streets of Stranraer and the same applies if you want to connect to the A75, which is the road used by traffic heading from here to England. On a good day and with a fair wind, the journey time by car to Glasgow or Carlisle from Portpatrick takes more than two hours. There is no dual carriageway going north until you reach Ayr and no motorway until you reach Kilmarnock. Going south, there are only a few overtaking opportunities towards Dumfries, then you face 23 miles of single carriageway from there to Gretna where you reach the M6. A bridge over the North Channel will not make these connections any better. Without a complete roads upgrade, the Portpatrick area will not cope with the current amount of traffic from Ireland let alone any increase.

In terms of road and transport links (or connectivity as the London-centric Tories talk about), we are the forgotten corner. Any feasibility study regarding a Celtic bridge must include the total cost; infrastructure, dualling of both the A77 and A75, together with the impact on Portpatrick, the surrounding rich farmland, not to mention job losses from the closure of the ferry services out of Cairnryan, which incidentally are extremely efficient and well run and get you to Northern Ireland in two hours. The ferries are rarely cancelled. We have had winds of more than 60mph here, on a daily basis, for the best part of a week. The frequency of high winds here is increasing. How would a bridge in the North Channel cope?

We could achieve connectivity for this part of Scotland at a fraction of the cost of a bridge to Ireland by dualling the A77 and the A75. Let’s inject some common sense and not hot air into this proposal.

Moira McAlpine, Ballantrae.

IF David Bone (Letters, February 13) and others actually believe that £20 billion is available to build a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland then they must be living in cloud cuckoo land. They conveniently forget that this blessed United Kingdom is £1.8 trillion in debt and is having to use quantitative easing to pay the interest on this massive UK debt of almost £ 1 billion a week. Not to mention the £106bn for HS2.

Never mind the Lords and Ladies in the House of Lords have just voted themselves an increase in their daily allowance taking it up to £325 a day, so all is well.

Alec Oattes, Ayr.

THERE is a fundamental reason why we should not spend at least £100bn on HS2 and another £20bn on the mooted “Boris” bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland. Every single penny of that unnecessary expenditure will have to be borrowed and added to our colossal national debt of £2 trillion, the interest payments on which are already £1bn per week.

Instead of increasing expenditure, and no doubt increasing taxes too, the British Government should be looking to make savings.

The very first on the list should be to end the squandering of £14bn of taxpayers’ money on foreign aid each year. For example, why have we spent money in the nuclear powers China – the world’s second most powerful country and second largest economy – or India, which can afford a 182m Statue of Unity on a 58m plinth. The foreign aid budget should at the very least be cut to no more than £1bn including contingencies.

Your readers will no doubt be able to suggest other budgets that are in need of a stiff pruning.

Otto Inglis, Edinburgh EH4.

WATCHING Ian Blackford being flattened so regularly by Boris Johnson in the House of Commons is becoming boring.

Perhaps a little homework and preparation could stop these humiliations. For example, in his latest faux pas, Mr Blackford was claiming that Boris Johnson’s proposed bridge between Scotland and Ireland would span the "North Sea". This was beyond embarrassing. Cue chortles and disdain from the rest of the House.

This hurts as when he speaks he speaks as a Scottish representative in a position of authority and his knowledge or lack of it reflects on all of us.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh EH6.

THE Rev Dr John Cameron (Letters, February 13) describes the brief closure of the Queensferry Crossing as a "catastrophe". Really? I wonder what word he would use to describe the current situation in Syria or Yemen, or the fires in Australia, or the many past natural events that have killed tens of thousands.

Nobody dead, no one hurt, some inconvenience for commuters between Fife and Edinburgh; a scunner, no doubt. But we live in a complex society, reliant on an enormous amount of science, engineering and technology to sustain our comfortable lifestyle. Can we please steer clear of hysteria when something goes wrong and spoils our otherwise pretty good day?

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

YOUR Opinion Matrix (February 13) and Alan Simpson’s article (“Failing to act for a year to stop bridge ice falling IS farcical”, The Herald, February 13) in my view reveal ignorance of the problem. Suggestions that this would have been rectified within a year had the bridge been on a route into Stockholm, etc. are simply incorrect. The cable-stayed Öresund bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden has been closed regularly over the past 20 years for this very same reason, with the operator being quoted as stating: "It’s up to the sun, all we can do is wait.” Similarly, three cable-stayed bridges around Vancouver along with the Penobscot Narrows Bridge in Maine, have all been closed within the past week; there will have been others in similar northern climes that experience freeze/thaw cycles.

Professor Christos Georgakis of Aarhus University explained on Radio Scotland on Wednesday that this matter has been and will be challenging bridge engineers for years. It is fortunate that we are in the position of being able to develop a contingency plan with the Forth Road Bridge, which cannot be done with the other major bridges mentioned above.

John C Hutchison, chartered engineer, Fort William.

YOUR headline “The Farce Road Bridge” (The Herald, February 12) was more suited to a tabloid. Bridges all over the UK and beyond were closed. Authorities do not shut bridges and roads just to annoy people and for the media to jump on this bandwagon is bordering on the irresponsible.

The three Forth bridges represent remarkable achievements of human beings across three centuries, often in treacherous weather conditions. I have no idea what government or political party was in power when the other two were built but it seems that the Queensferry Crossig has become a political football. It’s a bridge and those charged with public safety, in my opinion, made the right decision.

Noirin Blackie, Haddington.

BILL Clark (Letters, February 12) asks why there is no longer a ferry service between Rosyth and Zeebrugge. I’m not a member of the SNP, but I am a Green (and an economist), and support both independence for Scotland, and our membership of the EU. So perhaps he’ll accept a reply to his question from me?

I worked as a consultant on the economics of a direct Rosyth-Zeebrugge ferry in the 1990s. I read the report produced by Scottish Enterprise on the subject, and can tell Mr Clark exactly why the Rosyth service failed.

The Scottish Enterprise study examined the success of the ferry between Ancona in Italy, and Greece, despite a much shorter crossing from Bari, further south in Italy. It compared this to a service from Rosyth, and the similarly-existing shorter sea crossing from the Humber, more than 200 miles further south. And concluded that therefore, there was a good chance of a Rosyth ferry succeeding, if it could win a small share of the Humber’s market.

Alas, Scottish Enterprise – this was under a Tory government of course – failed to take account of one simple and glaringly obvious fact. Italian autostrada are tolled, and UK motorways, with wee exceptions, are not. Large trucks from industrial northern Italy therefore saved not only drivers’ wages, fuel, tyre and vehicle depreciation costs if they used Ancona. They also saved hefty road tolls. I pointed this out to the clients for whom I was working as consultant, and since they didn’t like it, I resigned from the contract. They wanted to hear arguments why Rosyth would work. I was not prepared to be professionally dishonest. So we got the ferry. And, predictably it failed commercially.

Make no mistake, I support a direct Scotland-mainland Europe ferry service. In the world of the 1990s, it would have required continuing government subsidy. But in the near future, when Scotland is in the EU and England is not, the rules will be very different. A new service from Rosyth (or wherever) can and will work in a different politico-economic environment.

Dougie Harrison, Milngavie.

Read more: Decision to go for a new Forth bridge was flawed