The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a multi-million financial package for essential freight services which includes up to £17 million for critical ferry routes between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

The news has been warmly welcomed by Seamus Leheny, Policy Manager for Northern Ireland at the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

“The Government’s decision to provide financial support to safeguard key GB-NI ferry routes is key to securing the future of sea freight on the Irish Sea,” he said, “and provides welcome reassurance for GB-NI supply chains, so that they can remain fully functional throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The FTA said that the Government’s decision was recognition of the crucial importance of sea freight to the economies of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with the desperately needed funding representing a lifeline for these key ferry routes.

“We are also pleased to see the Government subsequently announced a broader package of support measures for routes between the UK and mainland Europe to help protect the nation’s supply chains during this pandemic,” Mr Leheny concluded.

The DfT funding will ensure the ongoing supply of critical goods into the country during the COVID-19 outbreak, with up to 31 routes eligible for support, subject to discussions with operators.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the UK is working closely alongside French and Irish partners and has pledged in a joint statement to “strengthen partnership and share best practices”, to ensure the continued movement of freight across the continent.

Last reviewed 22 May 2020