PLANS to launch a new Scotland to Europe ferry have been put on hold due to a “lack of financial support” from the Scottish and UK governments.

Earlier this month, Derek Sloan – the shipping expert behind the project to restore the route – warned that plans won't take off without backing from either Westminster or Holyrood.

He told The National that “considerable progress” had been made and that the target date for introducing the route – three return sailings per week from Rosyth to the French port of Dunkirk – remained May 2024.

But those plans have now been scrapped, with ferry operator DFDS saying that May, or even summer 2024, is “no longer feasible” due to a lack of “commitment” from the Scottish and UK Government to back the route.

“[This] makes our business case for the route less viable,” the Danish company added in an email to other stakeholders.

READ MORE: Scotland to Europe ferry: Scottish Government 'missing opportunity'

DFDS said they still “remain firm in our belief” that the route can operate on a sustainable financial basis.

They added: “However, as we have discussed in detail during our planning phase, there are significant start-up costs and risk elements to be borne, and without commitment to funding no further progress can be made.”

“We may receive news from the Scottish and UK governments in the coming days and weeks that will allow us to reactivate our plan, but for now, we will be putting the project on hold.”

Sloan, meanwhile, said it was a “great pity that the momentum has been lost” due to the lack of financial support for creating the infrastructure that would have led to a direct route to Europe.

He added: “This route would have a significant boost to both Scottish exporters and importers and our tourism industry, as well as the economy in general. Not only will it create employment but also have a large impact in reducing Scotland’s carbon footprint.

“I am hoping that the Scottish and/or UK Government will still engage with us as soon as possible, in order that we can reactivate the planned route between Rosyth and Dunkirk.”

The Scottish and UK governments have been approached for comment.