THE creation of a direct ferry service between Rosyth and Europe remains an "exciting prospect" despite falling behind schedule. 

Ferries stopped sailing between the town and Zeebrugge on the Belgian coast five years ago, with the closest ferry connection for Scots taking them via Newcastle and, formerly, Hull.

Douglas Chapman, Dunfermline and West Fife MP, has said that “high-level talks” are now going ahead with a different mainland European port due to a lack of "adequate berthing space" in Zeebrugge.

READ MORE: Plans 'progressing' on return of Rosyth Euro ferry 

Mr Chapman added that a deal would “boost trade, grow exports and tourism opportunities for our nation”.

The route was last open to freight in 2018 when it was operated by DFDS, a Danish international shipping company, but a fire on board its ship hastened the end as the company could not find a replacement and “lost all hope” of turning around losses.

The ferry last carried passenger services in 2010, eight years after it first began sailing.

In June 2022, the Press reported that DFDS and Ptarmigan Shipping signed an agreement "to further investigate the possibility" of re-opening the route with a target date of early 2023 for freight.

And in May of this year, Mr Chapman took the issue to Westminster. 

READ MORE: First Minister asked to help get Euro ferry sailing again

At that time he said the "main barriers" the project faces are issues around border force and control but that help from the UK Government could alleviate these costs.

The SNP politician said: "This has been a long haul project; however, we have a reliable and highly professional ferry operator lined up in the shape of DFDS who have shown a keen interest in making our need for a passenger and freight service from Rosyth into the EU a reality.

“Talks continue with Forth Ports and the receiving port on the European mainland and difficulties raised by the UK Border Force are being ironed out with solutions being sought.

“Part of the issue has also been around the availability of adequate berthing space in Zeebrugge and consultants, Ptarmigan Shipping, are in high-level talks with another receiving port.

"We think this will strengthen the business case and quality of the service for passengers and freight operators alike.

READ MORE: MP travels to Copenhagen for talks with DFDS about re-start of Rosyth to Zeebrugge ferry

“So, while we are behind schedule, the creation of a direct ferry service between Scotland and Europe remains an exciting prospect.

"I thank the petitioners for their efforts in encouraging us to make the final push to deliver the ferry service Scotland needs and wants to boost trade, grow exports and tourism opportunities for our nation."

Dunfermline Press: Douglas Chapman MP

Derek Sloan, director at Ptarmigan Shipping, added: "There is a great deal of effort going into what we have named as Project Brave which will see us deliver a direct ferry service from Scotland to Europe.

“I remain very confident that not only is this service a necessity for hauliers and tourists but will be a huge success on which we can build greater connectivity into European markets."

READ MORE: Ferries to Zeebrugge backed at SNP conference

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: "We’ve always made clear our support for the development of Scotland’s ports and the potential for new direct freight and passenger ferry services linking Scotland to Europe.

“We will continue to engage with port operators and others to explore how that might be delivered so that Scottish exporters have more direct routes to market and that passengers have viable alternatives to air travel.

"Any new service will require to be delivered on a commercial basis."