Ferries to the Netherlands from Rosyth could start as soon as the end of October according to the director of the company looking to establish the route.
However the target was described as “not too realistic” by one well-placed source who also cast doubt over the possibility of the service ever being established.
Politicians in Edinburgh and the Netherlands welcomed the idea potential ferry service with many locals on both ends of the route reacting enthusiastically to the possibility of a ferry service linking the Low Countries with Scotland and providing a new, low-carbon method of travelling to Europe from Scotland.
The Evening News reported yesterday the Scottish Government has been in discussions with TEC Offshore about the route who had requested a substantial financial commitment by the government from public funds worth around £40m.
David Kellas, of TEC Offshore, said the ambition for his company was to see the first ferries to leave Rosyth for Groningen at the end of October.
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.”
Sander Slager, a journalist at the Groningen-based RTV Noord, said that the potential of a route linking the Netherlands to Edinburgh and Scotland has been welcomed by most in the region.
He said: “The Dutch side is really keen. The whole region is being subsidised by the Dutch government so for this to happen in Groningen would be one of the biggest events to work and income for people.
“The province is willing to discuss any help for the seaport. They need customs and work on the parking area and safety issues as well.
“Everyone is really enthusiastic about it. We had 1,600 reactions on Facebook, it is going crazy.
“Most of the reactions have been ‘yes, we can go to on a day trip to Edinburgh, my favourite city’ or play golf or go to the Highlands.
“Everyone sees the tourist potential. The whole thing is will it go through or not.”
Christine Jardine MP, whose Edinburgh West constituency includes South Queensferry which regularly receives visitors from cruise ships docked in the Forth, said she understood talks are still ongoing.
She said: “As I understand it, talks on the new ferry service are still ongoing. But whatever the outcome, more ferries mean more money into the local economy and more opportunities for Scots to go abroad.
“I just hope that the ferry company is putting in place the appropriate measures to ensure hat the service remains viable, but also that any impact on our natural environment is sufficiently mitigated.”
Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener at City of Edinburgh Council said: “A new ferry service could really ease access to the rest of Europe for local residents and businesses.
“I’d be keen to hear whether such a route, if realised, could also provide a more carbon-friendly alternative to flying between Scotland and Northern Europe, feeding into our ambitious target to make Edinburgh carbon neutral by 2030.”