TRANSPORT minister Fiona Hyslop is being urged to set up a summit to discuss plans to re-establish a direct ferry link between Scotland and mainland Europe.

Neale Hanvey, Alba MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, has suggested a meeting should be held early in 2024 to bring together all interested parties.

In November, The National reported that a deal to secure a new Scotland to Europe ferry route for both freight and passengers is nearing with the aim of reinstating the service in spring next year.

It followed SNP MP Douglas Chapman and Derek Sloan, CEO of Ptarmigan Shipping, hosting a delegation from the French port of Dunkirk and ferry company DFDS at the port of Rosyth after “productive” talks were held in Dunkirk on the idea.

Alba Party Westminster leader Hanvey has proposed the summit would bring together the Scottish Government, Fife Council, Fife Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise and the UK Government, as well as local MSPs and MPs.

Commercial companies with an interest in running the service to cover both freight and passenger services would also be invited to take part, he suggested.

READ MORE: Rosyth to Europe ferry will be 'transformational' for Scotland

In a letter to the Transport Minister he said the meeting could discuss any scoping work the Scottish Government has carried out and progress made since Ptarmigan Shipping and DFDS signed an agreement in 2022 to investigate the possibility of re-establishing a ferry route.

He also said it could explore the possibility of funding for marketing for any new passenger ferry links and look at the operational feasibility, economic viability and wider commercial opportunities which it could deliver to Scottish trade and tourism.

The National:

Hanvey (above) also said the UK Government should be asked if it is willing to provide alternatives post-Brexit to EU funding for ferry routes – known as the Motorways of the Sea.

He wrote: “I remain firmly of the view that it is vital for everyone to collaborate across Scottish, UK and local governments, local chambers of commerce and large scale industrial operators to ensure that we grasp these opportunities now.

“Failure to make progress on this vital economic opportunity will only serve to frustrate Scottish industry and stymie much needed growth and prosperity.”

Commenting on the summit, Hanvey added: “Direct ferry links from Scotland to mainland Europe, would if realised, generate much needed jobs at home as well as boosting trade and tourism on which our future economic prospects depend.

READ MORE: Rosyth to Europe ferry 'very positive' if Scotland joins EU - expert

“I therefore hope that the Transport Minister will look favourably upon this initiative and respond positively to it.”

Scots currently need to travel down to Newcastle if they want to take a ferry to mainland Europe after the freight service between Rosyth and Zeebrugge in Belgium stopped sailing five years ago. The last that carried passenger services was in 2010.

Then operator DFDS – a Danish international shipping company that is also involved in the new service – pulled the freight route after a fire made it “not economically viable".

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: "The correspondence referred to was only received today and will receive a reply in due course. 

"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."