Rosyth to Groningen ferry plans cancelled, Dutch media reports

Plans for the ferries had been announced by marine technology company TEC Offshore.

Friday, 17th July 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Friday, 17th July 2020, 8:19 am
The original Rosyth to Zeebrugge ferry departs on its first anniversary in 2009.

Proposals for a direct ferry link between Scotland and the Netherlands have been cancelled following months of silence around the project, Dutch media are reporting.

The plans for a passenger ferry to run between Rosyth and Groningen had been announced in August last year with a potential start date of October.

However, they were later delayed until April this year, but the project’s lead company, TEC Offshore, have been silent about the plans since then.

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Such a route would have been the first continental Europe route from Rosyth since the failed Zeebrugge route which shut down in 2018.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic and speaking to Dutch TV station RTV, TEC Offshore director Gordon Leighton said the plans had been shelved and blamed a “lack of support for the project”.

It is understood the Scottish Government received several approached from businesses proposing new ferry routes, but that securing commercial funding for any proposals has been challenging.

TEC Offshore had been told in July 2019, prior to the plans becoming public knowledge, that funding would have to be found from somewhere other than the substantial amount of money they had requested from the Scottish Government.

The reports in the Dutch media said David Kellas, who was leading the development of the project, has left TEC Offshore to attempt the project with a different company, a move that also failed.

However, future plans for such a route have not been ruled out by the government.

In August, 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."

Last year, the Evening News understood that the company was in discussions with the Scottish Government over securing a loan of £35-40 million, but the initial October launch date had been described as “not too realistic” by one well-placed source.

Discussions had been ongoing but had hit obstacles with the government keen to stress the need for the ferry service to be delivered without public funding.

Following the announcement of the delay until April, a further deadline which has since been missed, one of the project’s directors Gerrit Faber said: “A first departure in October was just a bit too ambitious. A few things still need to be built.

"We just don't have a ready-made terminal here like in Rosyth. That is why we have moved everything to the new date of April next year. This has no consequences for the project itself. So we have to take a step ahead when it comes to planning.”

The Scottish Government, when asked about the failure of the plans, said any plans must be delivered on a commercial basis.

A government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is supportive of new direct ferry services linking Scotland to Europe, but they need to be delivered on a commercial basis.”

In October, Transport Scotland said: “We have provided the company with information and assistance on potential funding mechanisms, including expert advice from colleagues in the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB).”

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