A NEW UK Government fund could help reestablish a direct ferry route from Scotland to Europe "very soon", campaigners have argued.

SNP MP Douglas Chapman has written to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and the chief executive of Forth Greenport to encourage them to help with the ferry route’s application for funding via the UK Government’s £150 million Investment Opportunity Fund.

“It could well deliver all the initial investment required to get the Euro-ferry service up and running very soon,” the local Dunfermline and West Fife MP said.

It comes after plans to launch the route in May this year were put on hold due to a “lack of financial support” from the Scottish and UK governments.

In January, Derek Sloan – the shipping expert behind the project to restore the route – told The National that “considerable progress” had been made but warned that plans won't take off without backing from either Westminster or Holyrood.

The National: Ships operated by P&O Ferries and DFDS

Ferry operator DFDS said at the time that the lack of backing made the business case for the route “less viable”. DFDS added at the time, however, that they still “remain firm in our belief” that the route can operate on a sustainable financial basis.

Chapman – who has long campaigned for the route to be restored – said that the awarding of this UK Government funding would offer a “strong signal” to the market as well as DFDS that would reduce risk while freight and passenger numbers are being built up.

He said: "The demand for an efficient and regular direct ferry route into Europe from Rosyth remains buoyant and meeting this need for both freight and passengers has been our driving force since the campaign started.

“While Scottish Government funds are limited, we are at the start of a new financial year and we'll keep pressing them for what is a relatively small amount of support – some of which could be provided in kind.

"Our attention however is now focused on the recently announced £150m Investment Opportunity Fund which the Forth Greenport could access and submit an application for in the coming months.”

Chapman added that improving maritime connectivity between Rosyth and international markets was a “key selling point” in Forth Ports winning the original greenport bid.

"I certainly hope that the response from Forth Greenport is a positive one and a funding bid is made as getting this service operational in the near future is critical to supporting exporting businesses in Scotland and to give a very much needed shot in the arm in our hard working and hard pressed inbound tourist industry."