BRITTANY Ferries will continue operating the freight ship MN Pelican out of Poole Port for another two years.

The 155-metre long vessel has been instrumental in building improved freight routes between Poole and Spain, ferry bosses say.

MN Pelican first left Dorset for the Spanish port of Bilbao in February 2016, carrying 72 trailers and six lorries.

Now, Brittany Ferries freight director Simon Wagstaff said: "We're delighted to confirm the extension of Pelican’s charter for two more years.

“Since her introduction, we've established strong demand for a route which connects northern Spain with Poole.

"Extending her charter will bring confidence to our freight partners and I hope may encourage more operators to consider the many benefits of transporting goods directly via sea to Spain and Portugal, rather than via road through France."

MN Pelican was chartered from shipping company Maritime Nantaise and this two-year extension is expected to drive even more business through the port of Poole.

It is a French-registered roll on-roll off ship with the capacity to carry around 100 unoccupied trailers.

In the unoccupied market, trailers are driven onto vessels then pulled off at the unloading port - meaning trucks and drivers do not need to accompany them during the crossing. However, the Pelican does have en-suite cabins for up to eight drivers.

The Pelican operates two round trips each week.

Last month Brittany Ferries also confirmed the order for a new £175million cruise ferry.

This vessel, powered by liquefied natural gas, is being billed as the most environmentally-friendly vessel operating on the English Channel.

The ferry, which will be named Honfleur, will operate on the company's busiest route from Portsmouth to Caen.

Christophe Mathieu CEO of Brittany Ferries said: "It is important that we invest in new technologies and new vessels that respect the environment in which we operate.

"Equally, we must not forget that our customers expect Brittany Ferries ships to be comfortable, relaxing and adapted to the digital age.

"These objectives are compatible and I believe Honfleur will set a new standard for ferries operating on the Channel."