A CROSS-SOLENT tunnel link between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is one step closer to reality.

Civic chiefs from south Hampshire councils are set to meet on December 5 to discuss the concept of a cross-Solent tunnel, which could cost £1 billion.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council said: “I have invited the people behind the proposed fixed link to present their ideas to south Hampshire’s council leaders at the next meeting of the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire.”

A statement from Able Connections Ltd, the group behind the project developing the Solent Tunnel, said: “We are having meetings with the mainland authorities to hopefully confirm preferred fixed link lines of route, locations and scheme details for the two northern portals.”

The plans will consist of two dual-carriageway tunnels built underneath parts of Fareham and Gosport.

The dual tunnels would run from Whippingham on the island to a portal near Lee-on-the-Solent and then to another 900 metres from the M27 where the journey will be completed with a new junction.

The news comes after four transport portfolio holders from across the region met to consider the potential for establishing a cross-Solent partnership board to enhance Isle of Wight and mainland transport connections. The board would consist of ferry operators, local authorities and island businesses.

Jacqui Rayment, chairwoman of the Solent Transport Board, said: “We are very mindful that we need to ensure the island is part of the bigger picture and that ferries run at times that the residents of the island need them to for social and work opportunities on the mainland.

“The fixed link is something that has been proposed on a number of occasions and I would watch with interest to see how this proposal develops.”

Carl Feeney, director of Able Connections Ltd added: “It would appear to be best for Able Connections Ltd to be part of the process of the partnership for establishing the best line of route and scheme with the mainland authorities.

“A viability study to determine the basic foundations of a potential tunnel would cost in the region of £100,000.”