SIX ferry operators will be the beneficiaries of a £35 million government support scheme over a period of up to nine weeks to ensure that there is enough freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of food and medical supplies during the coronavirus phase.

Sixteen of the most important UK trade routes, now designated Public Service Obligation routes will be protected, including those between Britain and Northern Ireland, particularly the short North Channel crossing between Loch Ryan and Belfast.

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.