Plans are progressing for a ferry link between Rosyth and mainland Europe, but Government funding is needed to allow the service to launch.

Those behind the plans say governmental support is "critical" and the Scottish and UK Governments have been asked to come commit to a package of funding support so the route can be implemented.

Derek Sloan, managing director of Ptarmigan Shipping, has been leading the proposals and, providing an update this week, said that "considerable progress" has been made in the last few months.

Late last year, meetings took place in both Dunkirk and Rosyth which were attended by stakeholders as well as representatives from government departments, local councils and tourist organisations.

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Border Force/customs issues are still to overcome some issues while it is hoped a government funding package to help start up the service will be provided so the plans can come to fruition with the planned launch date of May this year.

"The other issue regarding governmental support is critical," said Mr Sloan. "After lengthy discussions with all the stakeholders at the summit meetings mentioned above, it was evident that there are significant start up costs to be borne, primarily, but not exclusively, by the Ferry Operator (DFDS).

"It was decided that a paper of submission would be distributed to various offices/departments within the Scottish and UK Governments regarding the route, outlining the contribution/risks of the main stakeholders and asking for a committed package of funding support measures to help bridge the gap.

"Without this being available, then it is highly unlikely that current stakeholders will implement the route."

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Mr Sloan said the route would bring economic benefits to exporters, importers, employment, tourism and would also reduce carbon footprints, complementing and aligning with the recent award of Rosyth’s Green Freeport status.

“I see this as unfinished business and we must take the opportunity now," he added. "The economic, environmental and connectivity benefits of the route will be transformational for Scotland.”

Kasper Moos, Vice President and Head of Business Unit Group Passengers at potential operators DFDS Seaways, is keen to see the plans progress.

“We have done a lot of analysis to determine whether a ferry route providing Freight and Passenger services between Scotland and Continental Europe can have a sustainable future, and the result of that analysis is clear," he said.

"We firmly believe a RoPAX route between Rosyth (Scotland) and Dunkirk (France) can operate on a sustainable financial basis with one vessel sailing three return sailings per week, and, subject to market development, a two-vessel operations with six return sailings per week could be financially viable by 2030.

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"For this to happen there remain some obstacles to be overcome with port infrastructure, border force and, not least, start-up funding. If these obstacles can be overcome a direct Ferry link between Scotland and Continental Europe is entirely possible.”

Daniel Deschodt, Deputy CEO & CCO, Port of Dunkerque, added: “We are convinced that this route would create a beneficial opportunity for Scotland and Continental Europe. The main objectives will be to generate trade and tourism between both regions, and we are fully committed to support this project.

“A new development is that the Port of Dunkerque will build a new Intermodal Terminal for freight trailers to be carried throughout Europe, further enhancing our net zero targets. “

Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman has been supporting the proposals since they were first outlined and he said he is currently trying to arrange meetings with both the UK and Scottish Governments in the hope that things can move forward.

“This route will meet the objectives of the Scottish and UK Governments in generating economic growth, reducing costs to import and export goods to and from Europe and reducing the carbon footprint," he said.

"This is more than an emotional reaction to having a direct line into Europe, it’s driven by a hard-headed decision that we must make to grow our economy, boost exports and support our tourism sector by attracting more visitors to Scotland through this route."

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said they will continue to engage with parties involved in the proposals.

"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," they said.

“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."

The route from Rosyth was last open to freight in 2018 when it was operated by DFDS 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 last passenger carrying ferry was in 2010, eight years after sailings first began.