Transport secretary fast-tracks Southampton drone trials as part of coronavirus effort


Drone trials have been fast-tracked as part of the Government’s coronavirus effort, confirms transport secretary Grant Shapps.

It forms a route between St Mary’s Hospital in Southampton and the Isle of Wight, in a bid to ensure it is equipped to help tackle the virus.

The announcement 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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The move this month comes as part of an effort by the transport secretary to ensure vital routes for supplies and people are kept open through a coronavirus support package

Tje multimillion government support package for essential freight services includes:

  • up to £17 million for critical routes between Northern Ireland and Great Britain
  • up to £10.5 million for lifeline ferry and freight services to the Isle of Wight and the Scilly Isles
  • further support for critical routes between Britain and the European mainland

The funding will ensure the ongoing supply of critical goods into the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, with up to 31 routes eligible for support, subject to discussions with operators.

Commenting, transport Secretary Grant 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.”

Adding: “Now more than ever we need to work closely together, and the new Transport Support Unit stands ready to help our frontline staff and deliver crucial supplies.”

Find out more about how drones are being used in relation to coronavirus here:

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Alex Douglas

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