An ambitious plan to re-open a direct European ferry link from Rosyth has switched focus to Dunkirk, The Courier can reveal.
Work between the two ports is advanced, according to Ptarmigan Shipping director Derek Sloan, the Scottish businessman behind the project.
“There is a great deal of effort going into what we have named as Project Brave which will see us deliver a direct ferry service from Scotland to Europe,” he said.
“I remain very confident that not only is this service a necessity for hauliers and tourists but will be a huge success on which we can build greater connectivity into European markets.”
Direct link to France
Mr Sloan said his team had not been able to get a commitment from the Port of Zeebrugge on the berth and terminal required.
Working with shipping operator DFDS, they looked at Dunkirk instead.
If the Rosyth plan is successful, Scottish holidaymakers could soon disembark in France alongside passengers already making use of links from Rosslare in Ireland and Dover in England.
Mr Sloan was a key player in the growth of the Irish links, dubbed “Brexit busters” for their ability to get freight straight to market without passing through the UK.
The Rosyth link is targeted at holiday passengers travelling by car or motorhome, as well as hauliers.
The business case aims to set it apart from the nearest existing route from Newcastle which takes vehicle and walk-on passengers, along with freight, to Amsterdam.
Dunkirk, around 200 miles further south along the coast from Amsterdam, is close to Calais. Dunkirk is just over two hours from Paris on the fastest trains, or three and half hours by car.
It is understood talks continue on the project between both ports and the Scottish Government.
The port authority of Dunkirk was approached for comment.
Previous link shut down
There used to be a passenger ferry between Rosyth and Zeebrugge but it was shut down in 2010.
Freight on the line was ended in 2018 by carrier DFDS.
An agreement was signed with DFDS one year ago, which gave the project a push.
The campaign to bring the ferry back is supported by Douglas Chapman, MP for Dunfermline and West Fife.
He said: “Dunkirk is an even better option than Zeebrugge as it has a higher level of security and customs, a fabulous terminal for passengers and DFDS already have a huge presence there so they know the territory and have port networks in place.”