THE Scottish Government must “give its whole-hearted backing” to plans to reinstate a ferry route connecting Scotland with mainland Europe, Alba has said.

The calls come after The National revealed that the firms Ptarmigan Shipping and DFDS aim to reinstate freight shipping from Rosyth in Fife to Zeebrugge in Belgium in “early” 2023.

While talks are still underway, it is hoped that the reinstatement of passenger services could follow.

The route last carried passengers in 2010, and freight in 2018. However, interest in a direct ferry link between Scotland and mainland Europe has been building since Brexit.

READ MORE: Scotland to Europe ferry link 'to return in 2023' amid post-Brexit interest

Neale Hanvey, the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath – which borders Rosyth’s constituency, called on the Scottish Government to engage to get the ferry service back up and running.

He said: “This is a welcome development but it requires direct investment and political will to turn this possibility into a reality.

“I am seeking an urgent meeting with the Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth to demand that the Scottish Government puts its money where its mouth is and gives its whole-hearted backing to this important initiative which has the potential to generate much-needed jobs at home as well as boosting trade and tourism on which our future economic prospects depend.”

The Alba MP said he was also seeking to meet with the companies involved to discuss “the barriers that need to be overcome and what further support is required from the UK and Scottish Governments”.

The National: Neale Hanvey, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

Hanvey (above) raised the issue of the ferry link in Westminster on Thursday, asking the Tories’ Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exports, Mike Freer if he agreed that “the Scottish Government should make serious strategic efforts to re-establish a direct ferry link for freight between Scotland and mainland Europe”.

“That would also provide resilience for international trade, given the ongoing pressure on ports in the south-east of England,” Hanvey added.

In his response, Freer said that “although it is very much a devolved issue, I am more than happy to encourage the Scottish Government to pursue it”.

The Tory minister added: “It is a genuine issue, because the ability to build additional routes into the UK for freight builds resilience into the market and helps us to alleviate pressure points, particularly in moments of disruption across the straits.

“Importantly, as the honourable gentleman says, it helps to reduce the carbon miles for haulage firms as they take goods from the straits to Scotland.”

Outside of parliament, Hanvey went on: “Alba has been at the forefront of the campaign to secure direct ferry links for passengers and freight between Rosyth ad mainland Europe having led a debate in Westminster in January and meeting with the Scotland Office Minister in March to urge the UK Government to reinstate European ‘Motorway of the Seas’ funding to support vital ferry routes.

“It is now necessary for everyone to work together, both the UK and Scottish Governments, Fife Council and the local chamber of commerce to make sure that we grasp the opportunities to restore the direct ferry links with mainland Europe that Scotland needs.”

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 ferry services linking Scotland to Europe. The Transport Minister met very recently with Mr Hanvey’s former colleague, Douglas Chapman MP, on this very matter.

“We will continue to engage with port operators and others to explore how that might be delivered so that Scottish exporters have more direct, and resilient, routes to market. Any new service will require to be delivered on a commercial basis."