£200m investment in ferry switch
Ferry firm Stena Line has announced a £200m investment in plans to move its operations from Stranraer.
It will transfer to a new base nearer the mouth of Loch Ryan to cut journey times and reduce costs.
The company said 900 jobs would be created during the construction phase and 500 ferry jobs safeguarded.
The ferry port move will also allow a masterplan for the wider regeneration of the waterfront area of Stranraer to proceed.
First Minister Alex Salmond and Stena Line chairman, Dan Sten Olsson, made the investment announcement in Edinburgh.
Mr Salmond said: "This new development will safeguard and create 1,400 jobs and trigger significant investment in Dumfries and Galloway.
"I am delighted to welcome the decision to approve this project and Stena Line's commitment and continuing contribution to the Scottish economy.
"The relocation of the port to the new Loch Ryan port will also aid tourism with faster crossings between Scotland and Northern Ireland and help the regeneration of Stranraer as a major marine leisure area."
Mr Olsson said the move provided Scotland with a "first-class port facility".
"The link between Scotland and Northern Ireland provides a huge number of benefits for both countries," he said.
"Tourism and freight business between Scotland and Northern Ireland has seen significant growth in recent years.
"Despite the current difficult trading conditions we are confident that an investment of this magnitude will pay dividends over the medium to long term."
Stena's intention to leave Stranraer was first signalled in February 2003 with its proposed relocation site further up Loch Ryan at Old House Point.
Shortly afterwards the company began talks with rivals P&O to look at sharing expanded facilities in Cairnryan.
However, in 2007 those plans were dropped due to the prohibitive costs involved.
Last year Stena Line revealed it would revert to its original plans and make the move to Old House Point.
An announcement has now confirmed the investment to allow those proposals to go ahead.
Galloway and Upper Nithsdale MSP Alex Fergusson welcomed the move.
He said: "This formal announcement signals the start of a new era not just for Stena, but for the town of Stranraer itself.
"Many will be nervous about what the future holds in store, but I take an optimistic view.
"I applaud Stena's decision, which will tie the company to Loch Ryan for the foreseeable future, and it opens up a potentially fantastic future for a dramatic redevelopment of Stranraer harbour waterfront."http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/south_of_scotland/8506750.stm