Four ferry companies have been awarded government contracts worth a total of £77.6 million to provide post-Brexit freight capacity.
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced that it has signed agreements with Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O Ferries and Stena Line.
DfT officials say this will ensure that vital medical supplies and other critical goods “continue to be smoothly delivered into the UK whatever the outcome of negotiations with the EU”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: “As the transition period comes to an end, we are putting the necessary measures in place to safeguard the smooth and successful flow of freight.
“Securing these contracts ensures that irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations, life-saving medical supplies and other critical goods can continue to enter the UK from the moment we leave the EU.”
The agreements secure freight capacity on nine routes serving eight English ports “in areas less likely to experience disruption”, according to the DfT.
These are Felixstowe, Harwich, Hull, Newhaven, Poole, Portsmouth, Teesport and Tilbury.
The contracts were awarded using the Government’s freight capacity framework which involves a shortlist of “experienced freight operators” entering bids and will be in place for up to six months after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31.
Should the freight capacity not be required termination costs “would reflect a fraction of the full contract amount”, the DfT said.
The Government says it “continues to work with key local stakeholders and industry to prepare for the end of the transition period”.