Drone flights to Isle of Wight part of multimillion-pound package to keep coronavirus supply routes open
Grant Shapps said he will fast-track trials of drone flights to the Isle of Wight (PA)
Drone flights to the Isle of Wight’s hospital will form part of a new multimillion-pound Government package to keep essential supply routes open during the coronavirus crisis.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said £17million will be available for links between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
And there will also be £10.5million for ferry and freight services to the Isle of Wight and Scilly Isles.
Mr Shapps also committed to fast-track the launch of drone trials between the mainland and St Mary's Hospital on the Isle of Wight to ensure it is equipped to tackle the outbreak
Meanwhile, cash has been earmarked for the light rail systems in Manchester, Sheffield, the West Midlands, Nottingham and the North East, as well as critical routes between Britain and the European mainland.
Speaking at the Downing Street daily briefing, the Cabinet minister also announced the creation of a new Transport Support Unit, with thousands of volunteers and vehicles from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Highways England and Network Rail placed on standby.
Mr Shapps said: "Essential supplies are continuing to flow well, but operators are facing challenges as fewer people travelling means less capacity to move goods.
"Today's action will help ensure all parts of the UK have the capacity they need and, following on from our action to support the rail and bus sectors, it shows how this Government is acting to protect the transport links the country relies on.
"Now more than ever we need to work closely together, and the new Transport Support Unit stands ready to help our front-line staff and deliver crucial supplies."
But Labours shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: "The Government's transport package has left more questions than it's answered.
“Few will be convinced that this secures jobs and the long-term viability of key transport sectors, essential for any future economic recovery.”
He said support to light rail “merely papers over the cracks” and they have not secured all the key ferry ports, adding: ”This announcement is not the response of a Government that's got a well thought through plan."