'Precious time' has been lost on post-Brexit port planning the Welsh Government has said, as a new Irish ferry route is set to avoid Pembrokeshire.

A new freight route from Rosslare in Ireland to Dunkirk, France, will provide direct access to mainland Europe.

DFDS, a Danish shipping company, announced that a direct ferry would start on January 2, 2021.

The announcement comes after hauliers in Ireland pushed for direct access to Europe to avoid any potential Brexit disruption.

Commenting on DFDS' announcement, Mid and West Wales MS, Eluned Morgan, said it was a huge blow for Pembrokeshire.

“Throughout the Brexit process, we have seen our European neighbours take considered steps to protect their interests and to support their economy," she said.

“The new route between Ireland and Europe presents a huge blow for the landbridge, and the importance of Fishguard Harbour and Pembroke Port, which avoid the anticipated delays and red tape at our borders, further threatens the viability of our Welsh ports at a time when passenger trade has plummeted because of Covid-19."

Ms Morgan said the matter required the urgent attention of the government to create certainty for everyone who uses the Pembrokeshire ferry routes.

The Irish Times has previously reported that both Irish Ferries and Stena Line are expected to launch direct routes.

A Welsh Government spokesperson told the Western Telegraph they had only recently been included in joint planning on ports and clarity was needed from Westminster.

They said: “We are working hard to ensure our ports continue to function as smoothly as possible after we have left the transition period.

“At the start of the year we called on the UK Government to involve us in the necessary planning needed as the UK prepares to leave the transition period at the end of this year.

"We have only recently been involved in joint planning, including requirements at Welsh ports, so precious time has been lost.

“With just a month before we are due to leave, we continue to wait for clarity on some major issues from Westminster.

"In the meantime, we are working to ensure we minimise any possible disruption to our ports and that business, partners and users of the ports are kept informed as these discussions progress.”

Rosslare Europort General Manager Glenn Carr described the new route as a "hugely exciting development" and they had been working with hauliers to understand their needs "particularly in the context of Brexit".

Earlier this month, Pembrokeshire County Council said that if freight is re-routed from Wales then traffic at Fishguard and Pembroke Dock ports could be reduced, but this would not be 'immediately felt'.

Freight that does travel through the UK will see sample goods inspected, with 10 lorry park inspection sites confirmed by the UK Government so far.

The new Rosslare-Dunkirk route will be serviced by three ferries, each with a capacity for up to 125 lorries and their drivers in Covid-19 safe single cabins.

There will be six weekly departures from each port, either in the afternoon or evening, with a crossing time of 24 hours.