Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Cathy Peattie began by declaring her constituency interest.
“Forth Ports is based in Grangemouth, and many hauliers who use the Rosyth ferry are based in Falkirk East. They carry paper, forest products, seafood, electronics, whisky and other spirits, and many other manufactured goods. Rosyth is easily accessible and, contrary to what some have claimed, the Rosyth to Zeebrugge service has been a success for passengers and freight traffic. It is popular with hauliers in my constituency, and I have heard many good reports about it from passengers.
“The service is an attractive alternative to air travel—the growth in passenger numbers shows that—and we need such services if we are to meet our climate change targets.
“In many ways, the freight operation is important to, and dovetails neatly with, freight movements through the port of Grangemouth. Together, both operations are essential to the health and growth of the Scottish economy. They handle a huge proportion of Scotland’s exports; indeed, I have been told that a tenth of Scotland’s gross domestic product moves through Grangemouth.
“With appropriate development, the Rosyth market could be significantly expanded. Many lorries and car transporters still travel hundreds of miles from ports further south, but they could come direct to Scotland from the continent, and vice versa. As fuel costs rise, the competitive advantage of using Rosyth will increase. Moreover, extending sea transport services and reducing road miles results in environmental benefits.
“What goes through Rosyth could treble if we get things right. The market is there for the taking. I was in Rosyth last week and was impressed by the capacity and facilities there. It has a skilled and trained workforce.
“The ferry service should represent an attractive opportunity for any new operator. Things may take time, but I call on the Scottish Government to ensure that doors are not closed before solutions can be found. I am sure that back benchers will want to do whatever they can. In that context, I suggest that we set up a cross-party working group to consider what we can do to move things forward.
“I look forward to a successful Rosyth ferry service in the future.”
Other contributions to the debate can be found here
The Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change committee, of which Cathy is Deputy Convener, has published its report on Scottish Ferries.
News release on the publication of the report | Report on Ferry Services in Scotland (HTML version) | PDF version of the report – 2.14MB | Further Information on the Inquiry into Ferry Services in Scotland