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6 August 2015, 05:26
Scottish ports and airports should be considered as alternatives to Channel crossings for businesses as the situation in Calais continues to cause long delays, the fisheries minister has said.
It comes after plans were put in place to trial a "quick-to-market" route for vehicles carrying fresh produce to France.
Freight carrying perishable goods are to take priority, with lorries carrying livestock and fresh produce such as fish and meat to be sent directly to their crossings, avoiding Operation Stack in the south of England.
The Scottish Government welcomed the move but is planning further talks to explore potential alternative routes for Scottish businesses.
Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead said: "Introduction of a 'quick-to-market' pilot is a major step forward and we will assess its effectiveness in co-operation with Scottish exporters in the weeks ahead.
"A fast-track for fresh produce and other key consignments is real progress but there is still a need to have a contingency plan in the case of continued disruption and delays in Calais.
"With no end to the complex situation at Calais yet in sight, I am keen that the Scottish Government continues to investigate alternative route options for Scottish businesses and holiday makers. Further talks are in place, bringing together stakeholders from the food processing and transport sectors to discuss next steps.
"Despite the situation at the Channel Tunnel and Port of Dover, Scotland is very much open for business and we should take this opportunity to consider how various transport systems, including Scotland's network of ports and airports, can play their part in mitigating the difficulties we have seen."
Prestwick Airport, owned by the Scottish Government, is one site being considered to transport goods to France.
Mr Lochhead added: "The situation in Calais remains difficult and requires a multi-agency response involving both the UK and French authorities.
"The Scottish Government remains particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation in relation to migrants and will urge the UK to play its part in a co-ordinated and comprehensive EU plan of action in order to deal with the serious and pressing issues around the migrant crisis."