A PETITION to set up a ferry link between Scotland and mainland Europe has reached over 6000 signatures.

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

The route was last open to freight in 2018. At the time 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.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes to move on ferry link from Rosyth to Europe if FM

Steven Low, who started the petition, said “it's already many years late.”

He wrote on the petition page: “With air travel services strained and becoming much more expensive, not to mention the environmental impact and driving or rail to Europe being a long and arduous journey for most families, it is important that Scotland has its own service that will bring significant economic uplift to our country.

“With Rosyth already able to handle ferry services, we also have an opportunity to bring in a climate-friendlier service. Rosyth is located not far from Edinburgh and Glasgow. These are cities with populations of 650,000 and nearly 2 million respectively.

“The tourism impact to Scotland would be worth the investment and will bring jobs and income.”

READ MORE: SNP MP makes trip to Copenhagen to discuss Rosyth to Zeebrugge ferry

Among those who signed the petition was Carole Langham, who said: “Scotland needs its own gateway to Europe without having to travel to England etc. to get there.

“The port in Rosyth was used successfully years ago and was amazing. Please think about its return.”

Alistair Dawson added: “There is a real need for better access to Europe directly from Scotland. I was a regular user of the Ferry from Rosyth when it ran a few years ago. We need to be able to use trains and boats as an alternative to flying.”

Last summer, 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.

First Minister Humza Yousaf also said he would be “open” to directly intervening in the efforts to re-establish the ferry link during the leadership race in March. 

He added: “I remember exploring it when I was transport minister. The challenge will always be its financial viability, therefore obviously working with commercial partners to see if it’s financially viable.

DFDS told the Dunfermline Press in May that it is "still looking for opportunities" and the possibility of a ferry between Rosyth and continental Europe.

A spokesperson said: "We are still looking for opportunities to grow our network including investigating the possibility of a new ferry route between Rosyth and Continental Europe.

"We are continuously progressing with the project and will revert in due time."

The National: Douglas Chapman MP

SNP MP Douglas Chapman MP (above) has been campaigning to reinstate the Rosyth-Europe ferry service for years. 

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

"The progress we've made to date cannot be underestimated, and like those who have signed the petition, we know that this service is a necessity for hauliers and tourists alike.

"Thanks also to those Scottish and European businesses and individuals who have contacted either myself or Derek Sloan at Ptarmigan Shipping offering their support which points to the service being a huge success on which we can build greater connectivity with valuable markets and European friends."

DFDS has also been contacted for comment. 

The change.org petition can be accessed here