INCHGREEN campaigners have persuaded a senior Scottish Government minister to quiz the boss of Peel Ports over future investment and jobs for Inverclyde.

Transport secretary, Michael Matheson, is set for showdown talks with Peel chief executive, Mark Whitworth, next month to find out the company's plans for the area, including for the historic Greenock dry dock.

It comes on the back of mounting pressure from the Save Inchgreen campaign group for the government to step in and encourage the private firm to come good on promises to revitalise the site or sell up.

Mr Matheson, whose brief also includes infrastructure and connectivity, is scheduled to meet Mr Whitworth on February 19.

In an email to Save Inchgreen founder, Robert Buirds, Dario Dalla Costa, a government ports and canals policy adviser, said: "As stated in previous correspondence, Peel Ports is a commercial company and, therefore, it is not possible for the Scottish Government to dictate business decisions made by the company on how to best utilise its resources.

"In addition, the Scottish Government also has no say in the day-to-day running of any commercial company and its decisions on whom to employ. "Nonetheless, I am pleased to inform you that Mr Matheson will be meeting with Mark Whitworth, chief executive officer of Peel Ports, on February 19 to discuss the potential to generate investment and new jobs in Inverclyde."

Former shipyard worker, Mr Buirds, has welcomed the government intervention after several months of lobbying politicians, cabinet secretaries and even first minister Nicola Sturgeon about the matter.

In November, Inverclyde Council formally backed the Inchgreen campaign and urged Holyrood chiefs to step in.

Mr Buirds said: "Getting the government involved is a positive step forward as Peel will have to explain their negative ownership of a major Scottish marine facility.

"I would also expect the minister to ask a number of pointed questions regarding the deterioration of the Inchgreen facility during the 17 years of Peel's ownership.

"If they have no future plan for Inchgreen then they should donate the facility to the Inverclyde community."

Peel chiefs insist that the site is a key asset and that they are working tirelessly behind the scenes to secure work, including major Ministry of Defence contracts for Royal Navy aircraft carrier maintenance.