UK Government confirms £35m support package for ferry operators
Ensuring there is enough freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of critical goods, such as food and medical supplies.
The Department for Transport has announced a financial support package for ferry operators to ensure the vital routes are protected.
The government has signed agreements with 6 operators to provide up to £35 million to help ensure there is enough freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of goods.
The decision has been made to protect 16 of the most important routes covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland which were previously at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). They will now be designated as Public Service Obligation routes for a period of up to 9 weeks.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
"From the very beginning of the outbreak, we have committed to do whatever it takes to minimise the disruption caused by COVID-19. By taking this action, we have helped protect the movement of goods and services in and out of the UK, safeguarding the flow of supplies across the Union."
The UK Chamber of Shipping which has been working closely with the government for months on the issue of financial support welcomed the news.
UK Chamber Chief Executive Bob Sanguinetti said:
“Ferry operators have been under immense pressure in the last couple of months and they have continued to keep food, medicines and essential goods flowing into the country. The government was quick to recognise the strategic importance of the shipping industry and we are extremely pleased with the financial support which has been agreed. The tailored package for our most critical freight routes will allow the UK to manage through the lockdown and enable trade to increase as we move into the recovery phase.”