ISLE OF WIGHT residents have attacked a new vision to build an underwater tram tunnel linking the Isle of Wight with the mainland.

The cross-Solent tram tunnel would link Ryde, at the north east of the Island, with Gosport, under a plan submitted to the Isle of Wight Council.

The three-mile route would link the existing rail networks on either side of the Solent.

Island based Civic Networks Ltd, the scheme's architects, also wants a new ferry port built to the west of Ryde.

The ambitious proposals were submitted as part of the council's public consultation over ways to develop the Island.

Businessman John Clewley said: "We are trying to breathe new life into the Island."

A previous £60m plan for a rail tunnel between Portsmouth and Ryde was abandoned in 2002 after a massive public outcry.

It was envisaged trains would travel out on causeways a mile offshore either side of the Solent, before descending into a tunnel running for one mile in the deeper shipping channel.

Angela Hewitt, from the Against Fixed Link Action Group, said she would fight any new plans to connect the Island with the mainland for the first time in 8,000 years.

She claimed that a tunnel would destroy the Isle of Wight's recently announced plans to become a self-sufficient and carbon neutral eco island.

"The whole concept of an island life would be destroyed because you would have an influx of traffic and pollution from the south of England," she said.

Ms Hewitt dismissed suggestions that the tunnel would give the Island's economy a boost.

"People are still living in the past. We've got the fastest growing economy in the south of England, so from an economic point of view we don't actually need it," she said.

"I also think the buck won't stop at a tram tunnel, because once they've got permission to do that then they will just try to build a tunnel for cars too."

A 1998 feasibility study concluded that a toll-funded road tunnel would cost more than £300m.