Drone flights trialled in government scheme to keep supply routes open
Flights of unmanned vehicles to take place between Isle of Wight and British mainland
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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 £17m will be available for links between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. There will also be £10.5m for ferry and freight services to the Isle of Wight and Scilly Isles.
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 on Friday, 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.
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."
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