Ferry firms call A75 and A77 transport plans 'insufficient'
Ferry firms have criticised transport proposals for the south west of Scotland as being "insufficient".
Stena Line, P&O Ferries and Belfast Harbour said the A75 and A77 must be made dual carriageways to prevent loss of business to England and Wales.
They have issued a joint response to the Scottish government's draft transport study for the area.
Transport Scotland said it had invested heavily in both routes and recognised the importance of the connections.
However, they ruled out making the routes dual carriageway on their entire length.
The ferry firms said failure to consider that option would not address "long-standing concerns of tourists and hauliers as well as local people and businesses".
They want to see that option taken forward with cost and feasibility studies conducted.
They would also like to see a "default assumption" that any smaller improvements should be "future-proofed" to allow for the routes becoming fully dual carriageway.
Andy Kane, Stena Line's operations manager for Irish Sea North, said they welcomed the transport study and the micro-improvements it suggested.
"However, the reality is that the draft suggestions are insufficient, and will do little to encourage more passengers, tourists and hauliers to choose to sail into Loch Ryan and Cairnryan," he said.
"Instead, they will continue to drift to Liverpool and Holyhead, despite the increased sailing time.
"We need a 21st Century road network to meet what is a 21st Century port."
Transport Scotland said it had invested more than £50m in the A75 since 2007 and about £35m in the A77 with more planned.
It said that was in addition to more than £200m spent on the maintenance and upkeep of the routes along with the A76.
"We recognise the importance of transport connections in this area and we are considering how these can be upgraded in the South West Scotland Transport Study," a spokesperson said.
"With a focus on improving access to the ports at Cairnryan, the study is looking at road, rail, public transport and active travel provision on the key strategic corridors including A75, A76, A77 and A701 together with the railway lines to Stranraer and Carlisle via Kilmarnock and Dumfries."
Transport Scotland added that thousands of public responses were also being considered as part of the decision-making process.