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Emergency fund support links to Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly

Coronavirus: £10.5m fund will help secure flights and ferry services

Mark Moran
24 April 2020
Ferry, hovercraft and air services to and from the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly will be supported
Ferry, hovercraft and air services to and from the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly will be supported

 

Transport links to the mainland for people living on the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly have been safeguarded during the COVID-19 pandemic through an emergency package of up to £10.5m, granted by the government.

The funding – agreed jointly by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Treasury – will support the continuation of crucial passenger ferries to the Isle of Wight as well as sea and air links to the Isles of Scilly over the next three months.

More than 140,000 people live on the Isle of Wight and 2,200 on the Isles of Scilly. The new fund will help ensure these communities continue to have access to vital medical services on the mainland while protecting the flow of supplies to these regions.

This is the latest step follows the temporary suspension of competition law to allow ferry operators in the Isle of Wight to work together to continue to run essential services despite reduced usage during the virus, maintaining a route for those who cannot work from home and those needing medical treatment.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Lifeline transport services remain fundamental to everyday lives, and by taking action today, we are helping ensure communities can access healthcare and essential goods and services. We should all be inherently grateful to transport operators who are providing vital services across the country at this difficult time and we will continue to back them and the critical work they carry out.”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay said: “Services like these play a vital role in providing communities in these more remote areas with the essential supplies they need – which is particularly important as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Alongside the support for lifeline ferry services, the Transport Secretary has announced a support package to safeguard essential freight paths during the pandemic. The funding will secure the ongoing supply of critical goods, including medicines, into the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, with up to 31 routes eligible for support.

Alongside the protection for freight routes, the Transport Secretary also committed to fast track the launch of a new trial using drones between the mainland and St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight, helping ensure it is equipped to tackle the virus. This follows £28m awarded by the government earlier this year to Southampton and Portsmouth councils to carry out drone trials of this kind as part of a wider future transport zone trial.

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