A CAMPAIGNER has said that establishing a new Scotland to Europe ferry is an “absolute necessity” for Scotland’s economy after Brexit.

Steven Low started a petition two weeks ago calling for the once popular service – which ran between Rosyth and Zeebrugge – to be re-established.

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

The National: READ MORE: Scotland to Europe ferry: A timeline of once popular service

But calls for the service to return are growing as Low’s petition has now reached over 7500 signatures.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said during the SNP leadership race in March that he would be “open” to directly intervening in the efforts to re-establish the ferry link, but there has been little news since.

Lead campaigner for the issue, SNP MP Douglas Chapman, told The National that “progress” had been made. He added: “Like those who have signed the petition, we know that this service is a necessity for hauliers and tourists alike.”

But Low says it’s going “too slowly” for both himself and the thousands of people who have already called for action.

He added: “While this has been talked about on and off over the last couple of years, absolutely nothing concrete has been publicly stated.”

The campaigner believes the service is no longer a “nice to have option” but an “absolute necessity” for the Scottish economy.

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

He said: “In the aftermath of Brexit and the challenges it has set the whole UK economy, it makes more sense than ever that Scotland re-establishes these kind of links with Europe.

“It is no longer a nice to have option, I would argue it's an absolute necessity to facilitate and protect the Scottish economy. We need to protect ourselves from further disruptions that Brexit will continue to provide as well as the supply chain issues we faced during Covid.

“A huge portion of Scots live within an hour of Rosyth and I believe there would be a great boost to the local economy with long-term jobs to support the terminal.

“It is clear that no ferry company will sign up to a loss-making venture but with some investment from the Scottish Government with a well-priced, well-marketed and a good choice of sailings – it could be made viable.”

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 freight and passenger ferry services linking Scotland to Europe.

“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."