POOLE's Barfleur ferry will be taken out of service for two months next spring for an expensive modification.

The Brittany Ferries craft which is continuing its year round operation from the port to Cherbourg is having a £10million scrubber fitted.

Work will be carried out on the Barfleur at St Nazaire from mid-March to mid-May and there will be a gap between March 16 and April 29 when the ferry will not be running.

However the company is slotting in its high speed vessel, Normandie Express from April 30 to May 14, after which Barfleur returns to resume its daily service.

“Unfortunately we cannot provide the high speed service earlier for operational reasons, but it will provide a link during the busy early May Bank Holiday period,” said Stephen Tuckwell, communications director.

The crossing time in the fast ferry is two-and-three-quarters hours compared with four-and-a-half hours for the conventional ferry.

The equipment that will be fitted to the 22-year-old Barfleur removes sulphur dioxide from the exhaust, a poisonous gas which contributes towards acid rain. This is in order to comply with new environmental regulations coming in next year.

EU legislation means vessels must use fuels with a sulphur content of not more than 0.10 per cent in the North Sea including the English Channel and exhaust cleaning systems are a way of ensuring this.

Poole tourism boss Graham Richardson has welcomed the move. “This is really good news for Poole,” he said.

“The investment they are putting into the Barfleur is a clear intention they are thinking long term.

“The ferry service is a part of Poole and really supports the tourism product with people coming to the port to use the ferry and bringing people into port from overseas,” he added.

Brittany Ferries also runs five services a week from Portsmouth to northern Spain.