Edinburgh man's petition for a ferry link from Scotland to Europe gets nearly 12,000 signatures
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An Edinburgh man’s online petition calling for a ferry link between Scotland and Europe has gained nearly 12,000 signatures in just over two weeks.
Procurement project manager Steven Low, 46, from Juniper Green, believes the tourism impact to Scotland from a ferry link to Europe would be worth the investment, bringing jobs to the country, as well as being a greener way of travelling. Steven points out that Scotland has had no passenger ferry service to mainland Europe for a number of years. The closest route that anyone north of the border can currently take by ferry to Europe is via Newcastle - or drive another couple of hours to Hull.
Speaking to the Evening News he said: “I heard much talk about this back in summer 2022 but absolutely nothing has happened. I want to try and push this back on the agenda.
"There has to be a more environmentally friendly way in 2023 to get to Europe. While air travel is clearly faster, it's certainly not as green a mode of transport as ferry travel. My last few trips by air have been really poor experiences and the days of really cheap air travel look to be long gone.
"It is clear that there is an economical necessity to having a ferry from a trade and tourism point of view. Rosyth, or even Leith if there was a preference to have a ferry port that avoided the Forth bridges, are well placed. A huge portion of Scots live within an hour of Rosyth and I believe there would be a great boost to the local economy in long-term jobs to support the terminal.
“It is clear that no ferry company will sign up to a loss-making venture but with some investment from the Scottish Government with a well-priced, well-marketed and good choice of sailings that it could be made viable. Scottish and Belgian/Dutch industries could be incentivised to guarantee freight making it up to Scotland before it has to hit road - a great boost to those who have to drive the A1 and sit behind lorry after lorry heading up to Scotland from English ports.”
Steven stressed his belief that having a ferry link between Scotland and mainland Europe is more important than ever, and he welcomed the response to his online petition so far.
He said: "In the aftermath of Brexit and the challenges it has set the whole UK economy, it makes more sense than ever that Scotland re-establishes these kind of links with Europe.
"It is no longer a ‘nice to have’ option, I would argue its an absolute necessity to facilitate and protect the Scottish economy. We need to protect ourselves from further disruptions that Brexit will continue to provide as well as the supply chain issues we faced during Covid.
“I know Danish international shipping and logistics company DFDS has been named alongside a potential partner as being close to striking a deal to bring back freight before a potential expansion into passenger services. It's going too slowly for myself and the thousands of people who have already signed the petition.
"I genuinely thought if I got 100 signatures, I would be happy other people felt like me, but to be closing in on 12,000 is just overwhelming and I couldn't be happier that there is a strong feeling from Belgian, Dutch and Scottish people about its potential return. A big thank you to those who have signed and shared, it's been great fun watching the number climb these past few days.”
A Transport Scotland 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.
“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."