Stena Line hopes the new facility could cut journey times
Plans for a new Stena Line ferry terminal in south west Scotland should be lodged by the end of the month.
The company wants to move its Irish Sea services out of Stranraer and along the coast to Old House Point at Cairnryan.
It is estimated the project could cost up to £70m. It would cut journey times to Belfast and allow ambitious plans for Stranraer waterfront to progress.
Route director Alan Gordon said in the company's "best case" scenario the new terminal could be built by 2010.
Stena Line has to meet a number of requirements before the move can progress.
The company must submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA ) and seek a harbour empowerment order (HEO) from the Scottish Government.
A period of public consultation on its plans would then follow.
Mr Gordon said it was hoped that process could get under way soon.
"We would hope within the next four weeks to be able to submit the EIA and HEO," he said.
"Then it depends what objections come in whether there is a public inquiry, a hearing or written correspondence.
"After that whole process, if all the mitigation measures have been accepted, then the government would issue the permission."
He said that in the best case the new facility could be built by 2010 or, in the worst case, a year later.
Plans were ditched last year for a combined ferry terminal development between Stena Line and P&O in the area.
An HEO had already been granted for that proposal but it was decided it was "no longer economically viable".
Stena Line now looks set to go it alone with the new proposals.
If it vacates its Stranraer site it would clear the way for major plans to redevelop the waterfront area of the town.