HAULIERS in Scotland are "bearing the brunt" of the worst cross-Channel disruption in decades, with blockaded drivers facing delays of up to 12 hours as companies lose tens of thousand of pounds.

The migrant crisis in Calais, wildcat strike action by ferry workers and protesting farmers mean truckers are spending hours stuck in queues in Kent and northern France.

In one incident this week a convoy of lorries carrying seafood from Scotland was hijacked by French farmers who destroyed £250,000 of fresh fish.

According to new figures yesterday, the chaos is estimated to be losing Britain's freight industry £750,000 a day.

Brian Kenny, regional operations manager for Scotland and Ireland at the Road Haulage Association, said the situation was the worst he has ever seen, particularly in terms of the dangers and stress faced by lorry drivers.

He added: "The hold ups themselves are absolutely immense compared to what they were 20 years ago, we're talking seven, eight, up to 12 hours.

"Scottish hauliers use that route just as much as any haulier, it's the gateway into Europe.

"But with us being so far away in the first place, the cost to us is absolutely immense. If you take that [£750,000 per day] figure as the average for the UK, the further you are away from that port the higher the cost, so the likelihood is that the far north of the UK and Ireland are going to be bearing a huge amount of that brunt - although proportionately we have less hauliers actually using that route than the far south of England."

The bulk of goods transported out of Scotland by lorry were foodstuffs, said Mr Kenny, with fresh fish and seafood en route to markets in France, Spain and Portugal particularly vulnerable.

"That has to be there so that it hits the markets at the right time," said Mr Kenny. "This kind of disruption not only damages the haulage market, it damages to producers because they want to present their product in the best condition."

In the past week, striking French farmers angry over low food prices due to cheap foreign imports have challenged any food trucks from outside the country, exacerbating the stress endured by hauliers who have already been running a gauntlet of desperate migrants in Calais.

In one attack on Tuesday, a convoy of seven lorries delivering fish from the Scottish Highlands was besieged by 200 French farmers who used agricultural vehicles, bales of hay, and tyres to roadblock the hauliers in Brittany, north-west France.

The mob used forklifts to tip the fish boxes onto the road before destroying about 140 tonnes of food valued at about £250,000 with diesel.

Driver Gordon Ramsay, 40, from Invergordon, said he had to fend off around eight French farmers who tried to forcefully seize his documents.

Mr Gordon, who works for Scots haulage firm J&D Cowper, said: "It was quite a shocking experience as there were seven lorries in the convoy and we thought we would okay.

"We assumed it was just a friendly protest by the farmers but it turned into something completely different."

The farmers claim they are losing out as a result of cheaper foreign imports - though ironically the cargo destroyed in the attack had actually been caught by a French trawler.

Cross-Channel passenger and freight services were hit by further delays yesterday after the body of a suspected migrant was discovered on the roof of a Eurotunnel train in Folkstone. There were also reports of migrants invading the Eurotunnel terminal in Coquelles.

An estimated 5,000 migrants displaced from countries including Syria, Libya and Eritrea are now believed to be camped in and around Calais.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said the impact on Britain's economy was "horrendous".

Deputy chief executive, James Hookham, said: "[This] is not just an issue for Kent and the south east of England but a serious national strategic problem.

"This is the country's GDP and export standing still in these horrendous queues caused by the situation in Calais."