THE GROUP behind the proposed Solent Freedom Tunnel fixed link has unveiled a new proposed route.

Pro-Link, which formed in 2014, has devised a new tunnel scheme leading from Whippingham to a mainland entrance near the M27 East of Whitley, via Lee-on-the-Solent.

The scheme will incorporate approximately 2kms of exposed surface road, and all other construction will be subterranean.

The group initially devised a route that spanned from Arreton to points in Gosport and Fareham.

Pro-Link explained why they have moved the proposed tunnel entrances: "As more discussions progressed with the Gosport and Fareham authorities, it became clear that a big concern was the expected increase in traffic pressure on the Gosport peninsular, should Island vehicles enter at that point.

"A solution needed to be found to not only avoid increased traffic in that area, but to actually lessen traffic congestion above ground. To have the Gosport and Fareham authorities support the scheme, they needed to be offered benefits from the tunnel scheme that would not only improve vehicular mobility, but also radically improve quality of life for residents, while providing regional economic gains.

"The Portsmouth and Southampton authorities quickly became interested in the tunnel route. They realised instantly that much traffic travelling to or from the IW would no longer be required to pass though their already congested cities.

"Knowing that this traffic also causes pollution problems while being marshalled and loaded on to ferries, especially in times of extreme temperatures (heating or air-con while stationary), they had no objections.

"Both private and public funding is envisaged as the most likely way to pay for the project — two thirds and one third respectively.

"It is estimated that the Solent crossing element of the project will generate an annual revenue of circa £200 million, with a further smaller amount of toll revenue (to be assessed) from the mainland element.

"This has the ability to raise two thirds of the circa £3 billion of estimated build costs.

"Pro-Link are confident that more than £1 billion of project regional economic regeneration benefits, increased tax revenue and healthcare savings will be achieved to the UK PLC purse within a few years of operation. Ultimately, this project will pay for itself."

The next step is a viability study, undertaken by infrastructure specialists ARUP.