New Scotland to France ferry service 'on hold' over lack of public funding

DFDS had proposed to start freight and passenger sailings from Rosyth to Dunkirk in May.

Plans to launch a new ferry service between Scotland and France have been put on hold after the operators said the Scottish and UK Governments failed to provide financial backing.

DFDS had proposed to start freight and passenger sailings from Rosyth to Dunkirk in May, but decided to shelve the plan after failing to receive a commitment of public investment.

The Danish firm said the business case for the route was now “less viable,” although it hopes to continue talks with the two governments in a bid to find a funding solution.

Transport Scotland, an executive agency of the Scottish Government, said routes could not be subsidised in a way that would be “anti-competitive”.

A 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.

“The Scottish Government cannot subsidise routes in ways which would be anti-competitive beyond considering the availability of limited grant funding opportunities for freight initiatives.

“We’ve been clear throughout our discussions that any new service will be required to be delivered on a commercial basis.

“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.”

A passenger ferry previously operated between Rosyth and the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before shutting down in 2010.

Meanwhile, a DFDS freight service on the route ended in 2018 after a fire on board one of its ships.

Dunfermline and West MP Douglas Chapman, who campaigned for the new Rosyth-Dunkirk service said: “Despite our best efforts over a long period of time it looks very much like the proposed Euroferry service ‘Project Brave’ is locked in port indefinitely.

“I am clearly disappointed in both the UK and Scottish Governments that in the face of worsening export figures and the disastrous consequences of Brexit on the Scottish economy a solution could not be arrived at with DFDS and other key players.

“Now we are beyond the eleventh hour, I would hope that the Scottish Government will convene a meeting to get everyone around the table to discuss a suitable package of support given the extreme urgency involved.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in