Scottish government support in resurrecting the passenger ferry connection between the UK and Scandinavia would be limited by state aid rules, but hopes emerge of a seasonal service.
Also, a new vintage rally between Paris and Vienna kicks off next year. Italy to ban smoking in cars with kids, too. Eurotunnel freight capacity to rise by 20% in 2016/17. Switzerland finally removes all the explosives contained in its roads, bridges and tunnels. A new motorway boosts access to historic Vichy in central France.
‘LIMITED’ SCOTS SUPPORT FOR FERRY TO NORWAY
Government hands tied on Scandinavia service. Best hope now seasonal service.
The Scottish government is open to the resumption of ferry services to Scandinavia but says the direct support it can offer is ‘limited’.
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald’s Ferry to Norway debate took place in the Scottish Parliament this evening (Tuesday).
The sparsely attended but generally well informed session lasted less than an hour.
Wrapping up, transport minister Derek MacKay said, ‘The Scottish government certainly wants to see the expansion of direct ferry connections from Scotland to Scandinavia which could bring a different type of tourist to those already travelling by air. We have a very productive relationship with European ferry operators and we continue to explore all possibilities.’
However, he added that ‘due to the confines of state aid regulations… any such service would have to operate on a commercially viable basis’.
Subsidies recently granted to the DFDS Rosyth-Zeebrugge were allowed only on the basis that freight was being transferred from road to sea.
Government support for a Norway ferry service would be limited to marketing campaigns though Mackay did say the government had explored ‘other options for commercial support’ without being specific.
Aside from the proposed Norwegian Seaways service between Newcastle, Bergen and Stavanger, in which the Scottish tourism minister has apparently been involved, the best hope now seems to be a seasonal service.
In his opening remarks, Angus MacDonald said the CEO of Norwegian operator Fjordline told him recently that, ‘there could be a market for a ferry service between the UK and Norway during four to six of the summer months’.
roundup: ITALY. Like France late last year, Italy will move to ban smoking in cars with children on-board says thelocal.it. Figures from the national consumers’ association say 15% of roads accidents are caused by distraction while smoking. The new law is yet to come into force in France meanwhile the UK and Ireland are in the process of working up their own bans. Cyprus is the only European country where smoking in cars with children under 16 is currently illegal. EUROTUNNEL. Freight departures will be boosted to eight per hour from the end of 2016 when the Channel Tunnel operator takes delivery of three new shuttles (taking the total to eighteen). The order was announced today, with WBN Waggonbau Niesky in eastern Germany. Each shuttle, 800m long, comprises 32 wagons, three loader wagons and a carriage for drivers. The 20% capacity boost will help Eurotunnel achieve its target of carrying 2m trucks per year by 2020, up from 1.4m in 2013. SWITZERLAND. Extraordinary tale via the Malay Mail of how most bridges, tunnels and roads were laced with explosives to help fend off potential invaders during the Cold War period. The last of them were only removed last year. The army planned to retreat to the mountains – themselves hollowed out and filled with 20,000 bunkers, artillery and even airfields – setting off the charges in their wake. The ten mile Gotthard Tunnel itself contained a ‘vast’ artillery system. FRANCE. A new stretch of A719 opened yesterday makes it much easier for drivers heading through central France to stop off in the infamous Vichy. Formerly home to the collaborationist government during WW2, Vichy – founded by the Romans – was previously, and since, but not latterly, one of the foremost spa towns in France, beside the River Allier. The 14km A719, directly off the A71 thirty miles north of Clermont Ferrand in the Auvergne costs €1 each way. See more.