A new ferry linking Scotland with the Netherlands could be launched as soon as October.
Sailings to Europe, which would depart from Rosyth, Fife, were announced by the director of the company seeking to establish the route – and have been welcomed by politicians and locals alike.
David Kellas, of Aberfeldy-based TEC Offshore, said the ambition for his company was to see the first ferries leave Rosyth for Groningen, Netherlands at the end of October.
Politicians in Edinburgh and the Netherlands welcomed the idea of a potential ferry service, with many locals on both ends of the route reacting enthusiastically to the possibility of a link between the Low Countries and Scotland.
The crossings would offer a new, low-carbon method of travelling to Europe from Scotland.
The Scottish Government has been in discussions about the route with TEC Offshore, who had requested a substantial financial commitment by the government from public funds worth around £40m.
Mr Kellas said: “We are looking at the end of October as a launch date but that is really quite ambitious because of some of the items that we have got to get in place, but in business you have to aim for a target and hopefully you can achieve that.
“We are ambitious and are saying around the end of October.”
Sander Slager, a journalist at the Groningen-based RTV Noord, said that the potential of a route linking the Netherlands to Edinburgh and Scotland has been welcomed by most in the region.
He said: “The Dutch side is really keen.
“The whole region is being subsidised by the Dutch government so for this to happen in Groningen would be one of the biggest events providing work and income for people.
“The province is willing to discuss any help for the seaport.
“They need customs and work on the parking area and safety issues as well.
“Everyone is really enthusiastic about it.
“We had 1,600 reactions on Facebook, it is going crazy.
“Most of the reactions have been ‘yes, we can go on a day trip to Edinburgh, my favourite city’ or play golf or go to the Highlands.
“Everyone sees the tourist potential.
“The whole thing is will it go through or not.”
A spokesman from Forth Ports, which own the Port of Rosyth, said: “We continue to explore options for the Rosyth ferry. We remain receptive to approaches from potential operators.”
Christine Jardine MP, whose Edinburgh West constituency includes South Queensferry which regularly receives visitors from cruise ships docked in the Forth, said she understood talks are still ongoing.
She said: “As I understand it, talks on the new ferry service are still ongoing.
“But whatever the outcome, more ferries mean more money into the local economy and more opportunities for Scots to go abroad.
“I just hope that the ferry company is putting in place the appropriate measures to ensure that the service remains viable, but also that any impact on our natural environment is sufficiently mitigated.”