A £200M ferry port is to be relocated to shorten crossing times between Scotland and Northern Ireland after winning parliamentary approval.
Stena Line’s operations will be moved from Stranraer to Loch Ryan two miles north of nearby Cairnryan.
The development will take 20 months, and provides an opportunity to develop 26 acres of waterfront in Stranraer, according to the Scottish Government.
Dan Sten Olsson, chairman of Stena Line, said: “Today is a historic day for the people of Scotland and indeed Northern Ireland. The investment we have announced will provide Scotland with a first-class port facility which underlines and enhances the port’s prominence as the third largest gateway in the UK.
“The link between Scotland and Northern Ireland provides a huge number of benefits for both countries.
“Tourism and freight business between Scotland and Northern Ireland has seen significant growth in recent years and 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 Line runs ferries between Stranraer and Belfast and said the new port will shave 25 minutes off the journey time, save on fuel and reduce carbon emissions.
The cost of the new port includes two new high-speed ferries to be used on the route.
The new port is due open in autumn 2011.