HARWICH International Port is set for a slice of a £35 million government scheme to protect vital freight routes during the coronavirus crisis.

Stena Line's Harwich to Rotterdam and Harwich to Hoek van Holland are two of 16 routes run by six operators which are in line to net some of the funding.

The Government said the money will help ensure critical goods, such as food and medical supplies, can move freely.

Its decision was made to protect vital freight routes which were previously at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a result of coronavirus.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "From the very beginning of the outbreak, we have committed to do whatever it takes to minimise the disruption caused by Covid-19.

"By taking this action, we have helped protect the movement of goods and services in and out of the UK, safeguarding the flow of supplies across the Union."

The Department for Transport is working with the transport sector and devolved administrations to monitor the situation on all freight routes as the pandemic continues.

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.

Director of Stena Line Ian Hampton said: "We recognise, as does the Government, that our network of routes provide vital supplies, such as medical, food and consumable resources that are essential to the United Kingdom.

"Therefore, in cooperation with the UK Government, as well as the Republic of Ireland Government, we have been able to keep an agreed minimum of services running to keep vital supply routes open."

He added: "The subsidy support given is for a very limited time period and only covers a small part of the financial deficit on some of our routes.

"However, this aid does give us some assistance and helps us provide sailings that are essential for freight flows, ensuring the continued supply of essential goods to and from the UK."