The UK government is seeking to guarantee the continued running of its ferry routes carrying cargo with the introduction of a £28.5m support package to run throughout the current Covid-19 pandemic
The package for essential freight services includes up to £17m for critical routes between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, plus up to £10.5m for lifeline ferry and freight services to the Isle of Wight and the Scilly Isles.
The package also includes further support for 26 “critical” routes between the UK, France, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden. The package includes the Eurotunnel
The UK Department of Transport (DoT) said that “the funding will ensure the ongoing supply of critical goods into the country during the Covid-19 pandemic, with up to 31 routes eligible for support, subject to discussions with operators.”
Transport Secretary Grant Schapps said last week that “today’s action will help ensure all parts of the UK have the capacity they need and, following on from our action to support the rail and bus sectors, it shows how this government is acting to protect the transport links the country relies on”.
The British Ports Association (BPA) said that “this is broadly speaking good news and will help keep freight moving. Critical services have been hit by the drop in passenger and non-essential freight numbers because of the lockdown. While we welcome that this support will help keep routes viable, it will not help most ports who have significant fixed costs and have been walloped as their incomes have tumbled.”
The BPA further noted that “ports invest hundreds of millions of pounds every year in infrastructure, ensuring ships can move safely and go and that food, medicine and cargo continues to flow. These costs do not disappear when incomes drop away. It is critical that the government now turns its attention to the wider maritime and logistics sector to ensure it is able to recover and continue supporting the UK economy,” it concluded.