CALLS have been made for Scottish ports and airports to be considered as alternatives to Channel crossings for businesses as the situation in Calais continues to cause long delays.

It comes after plans were put in place to trial a ''quick-to-market'' route for vehicles carrying fresh produce to France.

Freight carrying perishable goods are to take priority, with lorries carrying livestock and fresh produce such as fish and meat to be sent directly to their crossings, avoiding Operation Stack in the south of England.

The Scottish Government welcomed the move but is planning further talks to explore potential alternative routes for Scottish businesses.

Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead said: "Introduction of a 'quick-to-market' pilot is a major step forward and we will assess its effectiveness in co-operation with Scottish exporters in the weeks ahead.

"A fast-track for fresh produce and other key consignments is real progress but there is still a need to have a contingency plan in the case of continued disruption and delays in Calais.

"With no end to the complex situation at Calais yet in sight, I am keen that the Scottish Government continues to investigate alternative route options for Scottish businesses and holiday makers. Further talks are in place, bringing together stakeholders from the food processing and transport sectors to discuss next steps.

"Despite the situation at the Channel Tunnel and Port of Dover, Scotland is very much open for business and we should take this opportunity to consider how various transport systems, including Scotland's network of ports and airports, can play their part in mitigating the difficulties we have seen."

Prestwick Airport, owned by the Scottish Government, is one site being considered to transport goods to France.

The potential solution would see fish loaded onto Boeing 747s at the Ayrshire hub and then carried by air to the continent.

Further meetings are due to take place today to discuss the proposal which is being championed by MSP Chic Brodie. He has already held talks with the airport, seafood businesses and agencies such as Scottish Enterprise.

Mr Lochhead added: "The situation in Calais remains difficult and requires a multi-agency response involving both the UK and French authorities.

"The Scottish Government remains particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation in relation to migrants and will urge the UK to play its part in a co-ordinated and comprehensive EU plan of action in order to deal with the serious and pressing issues around the migrant crisis."

Meanwhile, major reservations have been raised about the use of a disused Manston Airport into a lorry park when cross-channel services go into meltdown due to the migrant attempts to get into the UK.

The East Kent airport is to be used to help ease congestion on the M20, the main route to Dover,

as part of the police's Operation Stack.

Dover District Council said the plan will send HGVs on a 50-mile diversion, leading to potential gridlock in the towns of Sandwich and Deal, and rural villages.

Concerns have been voiced that Manston Airport - which closed last summer with the loss of more than 140 jobs - is too far from Eurotunnel's terminal at Folkestone and the Port of Dover.

There have been calls for the Government to adopt a more radical approach, including opening up the Port of Ramsgate, to enable lorries to cross to the Continent unhindered.

Announcing the plan, Transport Minister Lord Ahmad said using Manston was a "viable short-term solution" to the disruption local residents and the haulage industry have faced this summer.

But councillor Nigel Collor, of Dover District Council, said: "We have major reservations about the practicalities of the proposal and the resources that will be required to implement it.

"This is clearly not a sensible solution and has not been met with any great enthusiasm by the ferry operators."