Monday, May 18, 2020

UK Government Clarifies its Support for Vital Sea Routes and Ferry and Tunnel Operators

Multi Million Pound Plan to Ensure Stability of Supplies
Shipping News Feature

UK – Having promised to support vital sea freight routes during the viral emergency the government has released details of a plan to protect ferry traffic on the 16 of the most important routes, covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The government has signed agreements with six operators to provide an estimated £35 million to ensure there is enough freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of goods on routes which it felt were previously at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a result of Covid-19. They will now be designated as Public Service Obligation routes for a period of up to nine 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 Department for Transport says it is working closely with the transport sector and devolved administrations to monitor the situation on all freight routes (not just those in the scheme) in order to ensure critical goods, such as food and medical supplies, can move freely. The agreements follow the UK, French and Irish governments’ pledge to work together on temporary measures to ensure Covid-19 does not threaten vital freight routes between the countries.

UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, and French Minister of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, said in a joint statement that ‘our nations are united by trade and we will continue to engage closely to help keep freight moving’. Routes currently eligible for support are between: Portsmouth and Santander/Cherbourg, Poole-Bilbao, Dover and Calais/Dunkerque, Cairnryan-Larne, Tilbury-Zeebrugge, Teesport-Europoort, Hull and Europoort/Zeebrugge, Heysham-Warrenpoint, Rotterdam-Killingholme, Cairnryan-Belfast, Harwich and Rotterdam/Hoek van Holland plus the undersea route of Folkestone-Coquelles.

The operators involved in the funding are Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O, Seatruck, Stena and Eurotunnel with the actual amounts paid dependant on the amount of capacity required and sold in each week. Routes between GB and Northern Ireland will receive an estimated £5.5 million. The Northern Ireland Executive will contribute 40% of the funding on these routes.