HOPES of bringing back the Rosyth Euro ferry are sinking fast due to a "lack of financial support" from the Scottish and UK governments.

Earlier this month it was reported that Project Brave, a new route linking West Fife to Dunkirk in France - and potentially other continental ports in future - was on target to up and running in May.

Shipping expert Derek Sloan wanted to begin with three return sailings a week from Rosyth but ferry operator DFDS has stated that date was "no longer feasible" and "no further progress can be made".

In an email, the company blamed a lack of "commitment" from Holyrood and Westminster and said it made "our business case for the route less viable".

And while DFDS said they "remain firm in our belief" that the route is viable, for now the project is "on hold".

In an email the Danish firm added: "As we have discussed in detail during our planning phase, there are significant start-up costs and risk elements to be borne, and without commitment to funding no further progress can be made.

Dunfermline Press: Douglas Chapman MP and Derek Sloan welcomed representatives from the port of Dunkirk, Forth Ports and the new French Consul, Stephane Pailler, to Rosyth in November.Douglas Chapman MP and Derek Sloan welcomed representatives from the port of Dunkirk, Forth Ports and the new French Consul, Stephane Pailler, to Rosyth in November. (Image: Douglas Chapman)

“We may receive news from the Scottish and UK governments in the coming days and weeks that will allow us to reactivate our plan, but for now, we will be putting the project on hold.”

Ferries stopped sailing between Rosyth and Zeebrugge in 2018 and Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman has led the campaign to re-open the direct sea link to Europe.

Keen to see the route restored before he stands down as an MP ahead of the General Election this year, he welcomed a delegation of French port and ferry officials to Rosyth in November.

Mr Chapman told the Press: "Despite our best efforts over a long period of time it looks very much like the proposed Euro ferry service, Project Brave, is locked in port indefinitely.

"I would like to thank Derek Sloan for all his professionalism and determination to leave no stone unturned in our unstinting effort to reinstate a ferry service between Scotland and Europe.   

"I would also like to thank staff at Forth Ports, the Port of Dunkerque, and DFDS for the time and energy they put in as the principals in the project and to Fife Council who have been supportive and helpful throughout. 

"Finally, I am clearly disappointed in both the UK and Scottish governments that in the face of worsening export figures and the disastrous consequences of Brexit on the Scottish economy, a solution could not be arrived at with DFDS and other key players.

"Now we are beyond the 11th hour, I would hope that the Scottish Government will convene a meeting to get everyone around the table to discuss a suitable package of support given the extreme urgency involved."

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP, Neale Hanvey, said: "This is disappointing news and hugely frustrating for all of those who have worked so hard to see the ferry link re-instated. 

"However I remain convinced that a direct ferry link  from Rosyth to mainland Europe is both desirable and achievable. It is still a goal worth striving for and I believe it can still happen if the political will exists to make it so.

“We need a political initiative to ‘kick start’ the process.  Time is running out if this is to become a reality.  It is now vital that the transport minister intervenes as a matter of urgency to convene a summit of all interested parties."

Superfast Ferries launched the service from Rosyth in 2002 and it was later taken over by Norfolkline.

It stopped carrying passengers in 2010, when it became freight-only, and DFDS became the third operator of the route.

They reached the end of the line shortly after a fire on board the Finlandia Seaways ship in April 2018.

Mr Sloan said it was a “great pity that the momentum has been lost” and added: “This route would have a significant boost to both Scottish exporters and importers and our tourism industry, as well as the economy in general.

"Not only will it create employment but also have a large impact in reducing Scotland’s carbon footprint.

“I am hoping that the Scottish and/or UK government will still engage with us as soon as possible, in order that we can reactivate the planned route between Rosyth and Dunkirk.”