THE case for re-opening a direct ferry link between Rosyth and Europe has been raised in Parliament.

Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman called for support for Scotland's export and maritime industry during a debate about direct ferry links from Scotland to Europe in Westminster last week.

The SNP MP, who has been campaigning to get a ferry route between Rosyth and Zeebrugge restored, used the debate to highlight the “huge impact” of Brexit on Scotland’s economy and called for UK Government support.

During the debate, he said: “We’ve seen massive investment as part of the levelling-up agenda, in terms of Tillbury, Teesside, and the Channel ports.

“So, why are we not getting and seeing the same level of investment in maritime in Scotland?

“Brexit has had a huge impact on Scottish exports, and we need to remedy that.

“It’s up to the minister to bring forward proposals that will actually help support Scottish exports as we move forward.”

Mr Chapman also called for a Brexit resilience fund to be made available to Scottish businesses affected by the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU).

Speaking afterwards, Mr Chapman said re-establishing the ferry route from Rosyth to Zeebrugge could "hugely benefit" Scottish exporters at a time when they need all the help they can get.

“Brexit has had an enormous and devastating impact on these businesses and until a direct Scotland-EU ferry route is established, the Government must step in and support them," he said.

“That’s why I called for more investment in Scotland’s maritime industry and for a Brexit resilience fund for our exporters. Until the Government steps up to the plate and delivers, I’ll keep pushing them on this.”

Last month, Mr Chapman said he was "hugely optimistic" that a Rosyth ferry service to Europe would return in 2022.

Sailings stopped in April 2018 but the Dunfermline and West Fife MP remains confident the link will be re-established for freight and passengers.

The Rosyth ferry started sailing in 2002, by Superfast Ferries initially and then Norfolkline, but stopped carrying passengers in 2010 when it became a freight-only service.

It was then operated by DFDS but a fire on board the Finlandia Seaways ship in April 2018 hastened the end as the company could not find a replacement and “lost all hope” of turning around losses.

Even before DFDS stopped sailing between Rosyth and Zeebrugge, P&O Ferries spoke to the Scottish Government about a possible ferry route to Scandinavia but that came to nothing.

In May 2018, the General Representative of the Government of Flanders, Nic Van der Marliere, told the Press that Belgium was "keen to ensure this historic link is revived".

He met Mr Chapman, who said at the time: "Even before the withdrawal of the DFDS service, we were already in talks with Flanders regarding a new passenger and freight ferry service from Rosyth into Europe."

In the summer of 2019, talks were at an "advanced stage" between the Scottish Government and Perthshire firm TEC Offshore, who wanted to operate a ferry service between Rosyth and Eemshaven – a port near Groningen – in the north of the Netherlands.

However, those plans ran aground amid complaints of a lack of support, with Mr Chapman commenting this was "no surprise" and that he was working with another "interested party".