LETTERSFrom Cliff Bennett, Cranmore:
WE are going through another spate of letters advocating building a bridge, almost all of them citing as a reason, the cost of ferry travel.
Anyone who lives on the Island and wants a bridge didn’t ought to be living here. Build a bridge and the Island becomes a peninsula and immediately loses all the attraction for most tourists — the fact that it is an island.
A couple of weeks ago a correspondent wrote that the £400 million that it would cost could be recouped in tolls within three years. I have no idea where this figure was plucked from but you would be lucky to get an approach road for that.
Logistically, a bridge to the east would be an enormous project and would have to be at least 300ft above sea level to allow shipping to access Southampton, and the ships are still getting bigger. Build it to the west and it would devastate the whole of the West Wight and probably a large swathe of the New Forest for its approach.
What would it do to the Island economy? Probably kill it off. There would be no need for any local distribution services as everything would come direct — no fuel terminal, no ready-mix concrete plants, no fresh fruit and vegetables locally, the list is endless.
The hotel trade would be devastated as the Island would become a Mecca for day trippers from other southern resorts.
On the dark side, a bridge would make easy entry and exit for all sorts of undesirables and I would expect a dramatic rise in the crime rate, particularly burglary.
What of the Island’s infrastructure? To cope with a large increase in vehicular movement, new roads would have to built to the detriment of the environment.
The argument revolves around the cost of ferry fares but how many of the people complaining have any idea how much it costs to operate the ferries? How many of them know that the cost of fuel has risen 40 per cent in the last year? How many of them know that new emissions regulations about to come in will mean the ferries will have to run on even more expensive fuel?
How many of them know that 45 per cent of the time ferries are operating below a third capacity? The operating costs remain constant and all these factors are built into the ticket price.
The cost of a passenger return from Yarmouth to Lymington is £12.50 from the Island. The cost of a bus journey to Newport and back from Yarmouth is nearly as much, so why is one a rip off and the other not?
I moved to the Island 30 years ago and there is something about that barrier of water that gives me a comforting feeling. Remove that barrier, especially for financial reasons only, and the IW will only change for the worse and lose its special identity forever.
• Another letter on this topic in the Friday, June 8, County Press