DISCUSSIONS around reinstating a direct ferry link between Scotland and the European mainland are at a “crucial stage”, an MP has said.

The news comes after Alba urged new Scottish Green ministers to end their “conspicuous silence” on re-establishing ferry routes to the continent.

Ahead of their election in May, the Greens pledged to work with Calmac to “create publicly-owned services to continental Europe from places such as Rosyth”.

Rosyth previously had Scotland’s last direct ferry link to Europe, but passenger services were scrapped in 2010, with freight following in 2018.

Former justice secretary and current Alba MP Kenny MacAskill said the lack of any direct Scottish-European ferry link had “compounded” the trade issues caused by Brexit.

READ MORE: Holyrood buys £9m ferry for use around Scotland's west coast

Accusing the Greens of conspicuous silence on the issue since entering power, MacAskill went on: “The lack of short sea shipping routes connecting Scotland with mainland Europe results in unnecessary lorry loads of goods travelling to English ports for onward shipment, adding extra expense and time to Scottish exporters.

“The Greens are now in Government and their co-leader has a specific remit for transport so where is the action we were promised?"

Patrick Harvie is the Green Minister for Active Travel, implying that ferry links are not explicitly his responsibility.

Graeme Dey (below) is the SNP Minister for Transport with ferry services listed in his remit.

The National: Transport minister Graeme Dey welcomed the report

MacAskill added: “Greens must deliver on their commitment to reopen a direct ferry link from Rosyth to Europe or forever be known as the Scottish Greens who turned grey at the first whiff of power.”

Douglas Chapman, the MP for Dunfermline and West Fife - which includes Rosyth, said that he had been in discussions with “key stakeholders” around restoring the ferry link, and that they were now in a “crucial stage”.

Citing an “enormous and growing interest” in the link, Chapman went on: "I’ve been campaigning for a long time to see a freight and passenger service operational again and over the past few months the pace of developments has picked up.

READ MORE: First Minister ‘must not scuttle the Scottish ferry fleet', Alba say

“Recently I’ve been in discussions with key stakeholders - including the Secretary of State for Scotland, our Scottish Government and representatives from Forth Ports and the Port of Zeebrugge.

“Only this week I hosted a delegation from Zeebrugge and discussions are also at a crucial stage with investors and potential operators.”

He went on: “While there are significant challenges that need to be resolved before further progress can be made, confidential discussions are continuing between the key players, and I sense every party is approaching these talks positively.”

The National: Douglas Chapman MP at the current path linking Dunfermline and Crossford.

Chapman (above) echoed Alba in saying that the ferry service would help deal with the “disaster for exports” that is Brexit, adding that it may also provide a welcome boost to the Scottish tourism sector.

He said: “I’m working hard to ensure that any barriers are overcome, and to get Scotland’s European ferry link reinstated as soon as possible. With a fair wind, we can do it.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said it is “supportive of new direct ferry services linking Scotland to Europe”.

They added: “We have been meeting with port operators and others to explore how that might be delivered so that Scottish exporters have more direct, and resilient, routes to market.”

The Scottish Greens were approached for comment.