SCOTLAND could lose its sole direct roll-on, roll-off sea freight link to Europe within two years because of poor demand and impending increases in fuel costs, a logistics expert will warn the industry tomorrow.
DFDS’s Rosyth-Zeebrugge service was downgraded from four to three sailings a week last year after it became freight-only in 2010.
Professor Alan McKinnon, head of logistics at Kuhne Logistics University in Hamburg, and also of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, will tell a freight conference in Glasgow the end could be nigh for the loss-making service because of tighter emissions controls in 2014.
In his report for the Freight Transport Association, to be presented at the Scottish Supply Chain Conference in Glasgow, McKinnon warns: “In the absence of a significant uplift in traffic volumes and revenues over the next few years, Scotland may lose this one direct roll on, roll off freight service to the continent.
“It is likely that when the North Sea becomes a SOx [sulphur oxides] emissions control area in 2014, the costs of switching to cleaner fuel will force shipping lines to cull their marginal short-sea services. The Rosyth-Zeebrugge service may not survive this cull.”
Phil Flanders, Scotland director of the Road Haulage Association, said: “It would be disastrous for Scotland if everyone has to be trailing back down the road south. I hope common sense prevails.”